"It's in the genes." is something you hear when a lineage has mastered an art. Shivpal Singh inherited the art of spear throwing from his family and will put it on display at the biggest stage of all, the Olympics.
Shivpal's uncle Jagmohan Singh was a National Champion in Javelin, and now his brother Nandkishore and his two cousins have also picked up the sport professionally. "It's a dream that all of us saw", Shivpal Singh says, referring to the drive to reach the Tokyo Olympics being far from just his own.
The Surreal vision of reaching the Olympics became a reality with a throw of 85.47 at the ACNW league meeting in South Africa in March 2020. Singh became the second Javelin thrower to represent India at the Tokyo Olympics after Neeraj Chopra, who had qualified with a throw of 87.86 at another ACNW event in January 2020.
Previously Shivpal had clinched the bronze at the Asian Athletics Championship with a throw of 86.23m in 2019 and won gold at the Military World Games in Wuhan the same year.
The 26-year-old, Shivpal Singh, is currently ranked 18th in the world and has a personal best of 86.23 meters. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, a throw of 85.38 meters secured the bronze for Keshworn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago. A podium finish is not out of reach for Shivpal if he comes close to or betters his personal best.
But his season-best throw of 81.63 meters is a matter of concern, although the Olympic stage is known to push athletes into another gear. Even though phenomenal, Singh's achievements and talent rarely get the spotlight, which shines brightly upon fellow Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra.
Singh asserts this has not hurt his relationship with Chopra instead helped him become a better thrower. However, in 2016 Shivpal was the star when he crossed Neeraj Chopra's record of 77.67m at the National Athletics Championships. Chopra's improvement since 2016 is a testimony backed by the fact that he has the fourth farthest throw in 2021.
Tomorrow, August 4, Shivpal will walk onto the track with a Javelin in his hand and a nation full of hopes on his shoulder. With Nation's eyes set on Neeraj Chopra, 'The Answer' to India's Athletics woes, don't forget to cheer for Shivpal as well.
Singh will compete in Group B alongside Rio 2016 bronze medalist Keshorn Walcott, Marcin Krukowski (SB 89.55m) and World Champion Andersen Peters. Neeraj and Shivpal can move directly into the finals with a throw above 83.50m failing which, they will have to wait nervously to pass through as the non-automatic qualifiers.