Despite marijuana trouble, javelin thrower Davinder Singh fights back to create history at World Championships
It has been a real roller coaster of a few months for javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang, that has most recently reached an all-new high. The athlete reached his first-ever World Championships final with a humongous 84.22m throw, thus becoming the only Indian to qualify for the finals of an event at the competition so far as well.
It was in May this year that Kang hit headlines as he broke his personal best and threw the javelin a whopping 84.57m in the Indian Grand Prix Athletics Meet in Patiala, clinching gold as well as a spot in the World Championships. The required distance was 83m, which was comfortably crossed as the Army Havaldar joined 19-year-old young sensation and junior world champion Neeraj Chopra at the premier event in London.
The athlete was getting ready to take part in what was going to be the biggest tournament of his life when suddenly in June, news broke that he had tested positive for marijuana in his urine samples, a first of a kind for such a high-class athlete in the country. Traces of the drug were found in his sample collected at the Indian Grand Prix, but he wasn't suspended as marijuana comes under the 'specified substances' category in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited performance-enhancing drugs.
With the Asian Athletics Championships slated for July, there were serious doubts whether his name would be included in the squad by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) or not. After much deliberation, he was finally included by the federation for the continental event, saying that they could not ban him since he NADA had not taken any action against him either.
A relieved Kang took part in the Asian Championships and performed admirably as well. He registered a throw of 83.29m, which was sufficient for him to win bronze, with compatriot Chopra taking home the gold with an 85.23m throw.
Kang arrived at World Championships playing second fiddle to Chopra, with the youngster touted as the nation's biggest medal prospect at the event. In the qualifiers, it was Chopra who went first but after three attempts, he was unable to clear the 83m mark, which would have guaranteed automatic qualification.
It seemed as if India's only chance at a medal was over as Kang failed to qualify in his first two throws as well. However, he saved the best for last and came up with a fine effort of 84.22m, that takes him to the final round in seventh place - not bad for an athlete whose personal best last year was 80.21m.
Here's hoping he can build on his form and produce another memorable performance in the final!