In a recent episode of Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was all praise for Shivpal Singh – the ace javelin thrower who is all set to represent India in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020. But in a country where the players of only a handful of sports like cricket and badminton have the lion's share in popularity, how much do we really know about Shivpal? Let's have a glimpse at this 26-year-old athlete's journey so far.
A resident of Chandauli in Varanasi, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Shivpal has inherited javelin throw from his family. His father Ramashray Singh, uncle Jagmohan Singh, and Shivpujan Singh are also javelin throwers. Now, Shivpal's younger brother Nand Kishore Singh also practices the same sport and serves in the Navy from sports quota, reported India Today.
Shivpal's uncle Jagmohan Singh — who works in the Navy — has also been a coach. Whenever he visited home on leave, he would give javelin throw lessons to Shivpal. Shivpal's father, Ramashray Singh, noted that Shivpal had a passion for javelin throw ever since childhood. Till intermediate, he received his education while in the village. But seeing his talent in the sport, Jagmohan Singh took Shivpal with him.
Job In The Air Force
When he was 18 years old, Shivpal landed a job in the Air Force through the sports quota. To get a job through the sports quota, the standard for throwing javelin was 68 meters. However, according to Ramashray Singh, Shivpal threw the javelin at 74 meters.
He is now deployed in the Hindon Airbase. Although for his preparations, he is currently living in the Indian Camp in Patiala. Also, he is a first-year BBA student at KIIT, Odisha.
Rising Against Odds
However, the journey so far has not always been smooth. In 2015, Shivpal got selected for the junior world championships. Later, he got left out of the squad due to an injury. In 2016, he won the men's javelin throw event at the Budapest Open athletics in Hungary. But again, he stood eighth in the 2018 Asian Games, as he could manage to throw only one of his three chances because of an injury in the elbow.
But things began to look up again when Shivpal threw his personal best at 86.23 meters in the 2019 Asian Games held in Doha, winning silver. In the 2020 World Military Games held in China, he threw the javelin 85.47 meters, winning gold. To honour his talent, the Uttar Pradesh government conferred on him the Laxman Award in January 2021.
Expectations Of People
Not just family – Shivpal's qualification for the Tokyo Olympics has sparked joy and hope even among the people of his village. A resident of Shivpal's village named Deepak Singh has noted that Shivpal's was so passionate about javelin throw even in school that he would practice the sport at every opportunity. He expressed his enthusiasm by saying that all the villagers are not only happy about Shivpal going to the Olympics but are also sure that Shivpal will make his country proud this time, just like he does in all the other competitions.
"I am 110 per cent sure that we are going to win a medal in javelin. Last time the (bronze) medal came at 85.38m (Keshworn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago)," said Shivpal.
Also read: In A First, 3 Athletes From Odisha's KIIT University To Represent India At Tokyo Olympics