Know your Indian Olympian: 10 things to know about Inderjeet Singh
Shot-putter Inderjeet Singh has been one of India’s fastest-improving athletes for a couple of years now. But it was in 2015 that he truly underlined his immense talent with a rich haul of five consecutive international gold medals in less than two months’ time. That shot him up to the Asia No. 1 ranking and the year also saw him clinching a much-coveted Rio Olympic berth.
This towering 6 feet 5 inches athlete, who weighs 150kg, is one of India’s best bets now for the mega quadrennial Games. Here are ten things that you need to know about Inderjeet Singh’s achievements:
1. Inderjeet Singh was born on 19th April, 1988 and he originally hails from Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar in Punjab. His family later on, moved to the state of Madhya Pradesh where they settled in Singrauli as his father, Gurdayal Singh was employed by Northern Coalfields Limited.
2. He took up athletics after his father encouraged him and began to excel in it during his schooldays. His talent got noticed soon and he was awarded the Eklavya Award for Sports by Madhya Pradesh’s Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
3. The steadily-rising Inderjeet first burst into the spotlight in 2013 at the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia where he produced his personal-best distance of 19.70 metres to capture India’s first medal from this event – a silver medal in men’s shot put. The circumstances under which the medal came made his achievement even more applause-worthy.
Due to his luggage getting misplaced, Singh was left without his competition shoes and practice kit during the event. He ended up borrowing a pair of smaller-sized shoes yet came up with such an impressive display, fully showing his ability to adapt to any situation.
4. He carried his stellar form to the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon and clinched the bronze with an effort of 19.63m. The same year, he elevated his personal best to 19.89m at the Federation Cup in Patiala.
5. The ever-improving shot putter secured a distance of over 20m for the first time in his career at the 2015 Indian National Games in February. By hurling the iron ball to a distance of 20.14m, he also obliterated a long-standing meet record of 19.38m. It was a reward for sheer dedication for the athlete who had even sacrificed his off-season to concentrate on his training.
“I just wanted to get past the 20m-mark today as I had come close to it several times through the last one year or so and failed miserably then. For me, there was no off-season as I had stayed focussed with my preparation for these Games.”
6. Inderjeet next booked his Rio Olympic berth at the 19th Federation Cup in May, 2015 when he heaved the ball to his personal-best of 20.65m. The Olympic criterion is 20.50m which he met quite comfortably but he was not able to break compatriot Om Prakash Singh’s national record that stood at 20.69m since 2012.
7. Inderjeet embarked on the golden phase of his career soon after as he won five consecutive international gold medals in 2015. It all started at the Asian Championships in Wuhan, China on June 3, 2015, where he set a new championship record with his gold medal-winning distance of 20.41m.
8. The Indian, who had been the leading Asian shot-putter throughout the season, continued with his impeccable form and next claimed a golden hattrick at the Asian Athletics Grand Prix Series in end of June. He was just one of two Indians who managed to grab the yellow metal in each of the three legs of this event. His consistency even made him the best-ranked shot-putter in Asia.
9. Inderjeet continued to shine and his next big accomplishment was the gold medal at the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea in July. It was a historic feat as it was India’s first ever gold medal from this event.
10. At his first World Championships in August last year, Inderjeet threw the iron ball to a distance of 20.47m to qualify eighth for the final. It made him the first Indian shot-putter to make it through to the final, where his level unfortunately dipped and he could come up with only 19.52m, finishing 11th.
Other things you should know about Inderjeet Singh:
1. Inderjeet’s family has gone through a lot of hardships early on. Since moving to Haryana in the early 2000s, the family went through a financial crisis after Inderjeet’s father’s death in 2007. To meet the burgeoning expenses, they had to sell their two shops and take personal loans from the bank to help fund his training.
2. During his training, he keeps on pushing himself by calculating a metre less than the distance that the iron ball reached.
3. Shortage of floodlights at the training ground could not deter Inderjeet from reaching his goal. He has even trained using motorcycle lights in the evenings.
4. He is mentored by Pritam Singh, who is the younger brother of former Asian Championships gold medallist Indian shot-putter, Shakti Singh.
5. He is supported by the sports management firm, Anglian Medal Hunt Company.
6. Last August, corporate giant Mr. Anand Mahindra contributed a sum of Rs. 5 lakhs towards Inderjeet’s training when the athlete was in dire need of support. A crowdfunding campaign was also started by Anglian Medal Hunt Company in collaboration with Sportskeeda, Nurturing Excellence in Sports Trust and Bitgiving that raised funds to bolster his Olympic preparations.
7. He is currently undergoing training at the Aphelion Athletics Club in Pennsylvania, USA since November, 2015 with an aim of breaking the 21m barrier.