Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, the ace shot putter going to the Tokyo Olympics, was a rather unknown name until 2018. However, the naval seaman shocked the nation with his huge throw at the Jakarta Asian Games.
He broke the Indian national record set by Om Prakash Singh Karhana of 20.69 meters with his gold medal throw of 20.75 meters. Today, he went miles ahead.
In the very first attempt at the Indian Grand Prix of Athletics, Tejinder Pal Singh Toor created history. He shocked the nation and the continent with a mega throw of 21.49 meters in his very first attempt.
This not only broke the Asian record, but also gave him a direct ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. This is so since the A standard for qualification at the Tokyo Olympics for Men's Shot Put is 21.10 meters.
Tejinder Pal Singh Toor threw way beyond that, breaking the erstwhile Asian record of 21.13 meters, set by Sultan el-Heebshi of Saudi Arabia.
Return of the Indian Tiger, Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, at the Tokyo Olympics
Interestingly, Tejinder Pal Singh Toor just didn't stop there. He further threw four more attempts, each going beyond the distance of at least 21.10 meters to prove that his first throw was not a fluke.
This not only catapults Tejinder into the status of a world class athlete, but also gives him a realistic chance at a historic podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics.
Tejinder's throw of 21.49 meters puts him into the league of world-class athletes like Tom Walsh, Joe Kovacs and Ryan Crouser. Had he made the same attempt at Rio, it would have guaranteed him a bronze medal, something unheard of in India.
The sorry state of athletics in Punjab
Whether or not Tejinder Pal Singh Toor repeats the same show at the Tokyo Olympics is another matter altogether. However, if he manages to do it, it would be the best tribute to the departed soul of legendary athlete Milkha Singh. It will also be the biggest antidote to the deteriorating conditions of sports in Punjab.
There was a time when Punjab was the lifeline of Indian sports. Field hockey, athletics, football, you name it and Punjab would send a huge chunk of athletes to represent India. From Balbir Singh Dosanjh to Milkha Singh, Punjab was once India's pride in sports.
In the field of shot put, Punjab was once the only option. It all began with Parduman Singh Brar, who won back-to-back gold medals at the Asian Games in 1954 and 1958.
He was followed by many Indians, such as Bahadur Singh Chauhan, Shakti Singh, Bahadur Singh Sagoo to name a few. All won gold medals at the Asian Games, some even setting Asian records.
So what went wrong with Punjab? The deadly cocktail of politics, separatism and drugs took Punjab down. Today, Haryana, once a distant competitor, is still distant, but in reverse terms. Today, young people in Punjab are more interested in being hooked to drugs rather than making a name for themselves in sports.
Can Tejinder Pal Singh Toor's expected showing at the Tokyo Olympics revive sports in Punjab?
However, not all is lost. With Harmanpreet Singh's heroics in hockey and now Tejinder Pal Singh Toor's historic performance, one can hope for a revival in sports in Punjab. All that is needed is a strong showing and an Olympic medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
The way the naval sportsman has catapulted himself into history, he has the potential to fulfill the long cherished goal of Milkha Singh: a historic podium finish. Can Tejinder Pal Singh Toor do it at the Tokyo Olympics? Yes, he can!