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Athletics

I wanted to leave discus throw and play cricket — Tokyo Olympics-bound Kamalpreet Kaur

In an exclusive conversation with The Bridge, India's 2020 Tokyo Olympics-bound athlete Kamalpreet Kaur revealed that she was on the verge of leaving discus throw due to depression.

Kamalpreet Kaur after setting the National Record and qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
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Kamalpreet Kaur after setting the National Record and qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 2021-06-22T14:49:12+05:30

India as a society has stigmatised mental health and discussions related to it over the years. Though a small section of the society has slowly but steadily initiated talks around it and have been trying their best to de-stigmatise the entire topic, nothing works more than a popular figure coming out and talking about their struggles with mental health.

At a time when a lot of the top athletes in the country, including the likes of Abhinav Bindra, Virat Kohli and Sania Mirza, have come out in the open and talked about their psychological struggles during some or the other point in their career, people have started realising on how even the most successful people struggle with their mental health.

In an exclusive conversation with The Bridge, India's 2020 Tokyo Olympics-bound athlete Kamalpreet Kaur revealed that she was on the verge of leaving discus throw due to depression.

"I went into depression towards the end of 2020 due to the fact that I was not able to practice and compete in tournaments due to the prevailing covid-19 restrictions. I had reached a point wherein I felt like leaving discus throw altogether and focusing all my energies on cricket – a sport which I have enjoyed since childhood. In fact, I had left training for discus and instead started practising cricket," Kamalpreet said.

She revealed that discussions with some senior athletes in the country helped her realise that she should continue with the sport and play cricket as well on the side because she enjoys it.

"I talked to some of the more experienced athletes about this. They advised me to play cricket on the side but do not leave discus. Discus was a natural talent for me, and I had done well in it, so it made sense not to leave it at this stage, and I started with practice yet again. Besides, I was helped by the Gosports Foundation as well," she explained.

That decision to stick with discus paid wonders for the 25-year-old as she not only created a national record but also went on to earn a direct qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a throw of 65.06m during the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships at Patiala in March 2021.

"Refocusing on discus helped me greatly. I was able to set the national record and qualify for the Olympics at the same time. Now that I have qualified, I want to be able to bring back a medal from Tokyo. The way my training has been going, the mental space I am in, I feel I would be in contention for a medal during the Olympics. Of course, there is a lot of pressure, but I believe I will perform well," Kamalpreet said about her chances at the Olympics.

Hailing from the northern Indian state of Punjab, Kamalpreet Kaur grew up in a joint family and was a huge cricket fan. In fact, she took up athletics only because she had no idea that cricket tournaments happen in India.

"I played a lot of cricket in my village with my cousins and children nearby. I did not know cricket tournaments happen for girls, or else I would have been a cricketer. I knew district, and state-level tournaments happen in athletics because our physical education teacher in school had mentioned it before the selection of the school team for a district tournament. And since I was tall and well-built, I was told to throw the discus. I competed in my first district and state-level athletics tournament without any practice," Kamalpreet said with a wide smile.

The national record holder expressed gratitude to her family and maintained that she always found the right amount of support from her family and that she was never restricted in following her dreams.

"My father did not want me to play when I started, but he agreed when my aunt persuaded him to. Since then, I have always had my family to support me. Pursuing sports is expensive, but my father made sure that he does all he can so that I continue playing and keep doing well in the sport."


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