Manpreet Kaur has little idea how she added a metre to her shot put throw. She doesn’t even remember the mark set in her first national meet eight years ago. All she knows is that if she puts her mind, and broad shoulders, to it, she can do better than her record-breaking 17.96m on the first day of the 55th National Open Athletics Championships on Wednesday.
For now, 17.96 will be a special mark for Manpreet as it made her the second shot putter after Inderjeet Singh to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"It’s no big deal. I threw 18.6m on Monday, so I knew crossing 17.43 is within my reach," said Manpreet in a matter-of-fact tone, referring to the 18-year-old record set by Harbans Kaur at Mumbai in 1997. That the runner-up in the women’s shot put final --- another Manpreet Kaur from ONGC, came up with 15.03m shows how lopsided the event was.
It’s not as if Kaur wasn’t excited at breaking Harbans Kaur's record. "She works in the same Patiala DCW department of the Railways as me. So that’s exciting," said Manpreet.
However, she isn’t satisfied yet. Mother of a four-year-old girl, Manpreet’s last international meet was the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. Marriage and pregnancy meant she had to take a three-year sabbatical.
The comeback looks promising. She threw 16.39m at the last national meet, only to better it by 76cm at the inter-Railways meet last month. "I have to throw above 19m to give myself a chance of a medal in the Olympics," she said. Preparations are in full swing, informed husband and coach Karanjeet Singh.