India’s Kamalpreet Kaur qualified for the final of the women’s discus throw at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday. Seema Punia, India’s other entry in the event, failed to make the cut, however.
Competing in Group B, the 25-year-old Kamalpreet managed a throw of 60.29m on her first attempt. She improved substantially on her second attempt, throwing 63.97m. On her third and final attempt, Kamalpreet threw exactly 64m, the mark required for automatic qualification to the final on August 2. In case athletes don’t make that mark, the 12 best performers make the final.
Kamalpreet finished ahead of defending gold medallist Sandra Perkovic (63.75m) of Croatia and reigning world champion Yaime Perez (63.18m) of Cuba. Perkovic qualified at third and Perez at seventh. USA’s Valarie Allman was the only other athlete to make the automatic qualifying mark, throwing 66.42m on her first attempt to make the final.
Punia, on the other hand, began her attempts in Group B with a foul throw. On her second attempt, she threw 60.57m, while her third attempt yielded a throw of 58.93m. Punia finished sixth in her group and 16th overall to make an early exit from her fourth Olympic Games.
Kamalpreet came into Tokyo on the back of some good form. She is the first Indian to have thrown over 65m, and holds the national record with a throw of 66.59m at the Indian Grand Prix-4 at NIS, Patiala, in June 2021. Her earlier best, and previous national record, was 65.06m, set in March 2021.
Punia, meanwhile, had returned to action only this season after winning bronze at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. The 38-year-old Haryana athlete booked her Olympics berth with a throw of 63.72m at the National Inter-State Championships in Patiala on June 29, the last day of the qualification deadline. Punia, whose personal best of 64.84m came all the way back in 2004, has never qualified for an Olympic final.
At this edition’s final on Monday, Kamalpreet has a chance to become the first Indian athlete to win a track-and-field medal since Norman Pritchard in 1900. Pritchard won silver in the men’s 200m and the men’s 200m hurdles at the 1900 Paris Games.
(With inputs from PTI)