Punjab youngsters Baljeet, Amandeep hit the bottom working

Indervir Grewal

Today News Online Service

chandigarh, February 14

Baljeet Kaur seemed to have picked up where she left off before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the athletics season last year. Having won silver in the junior 10,000 metres event at the 7th National Race Walking Championships in February last year, she was all set to participate in her first world-level event. But the World Junior Championships were postponed due to Covid-19. A year later, the 19-year-old has won two back-to-back silver medals in the U-20 10,000 metres race walk event, achieving the qualifying mark for the World Championships in the process.

Despite the disruption in training and the 2020 season being scrapped, Baljeet has also managed to cut over two minutes from her timing.

Baljeet won silver at the recent 36th National Junior Athletics Championships in Guwahati with a timing of 48 minutes, 19.88 seconds. She had also finished second with a timing of 49:00.27 at last month’s 18th National Fed Cup Junior Athletics Championships.

Last year, she had missed the World Championships qualifying time of 50:30 by just one second. However, she was likely to be selected for the world event as a top-two finisher.

This time, though, she has earned her place by achieving the qualifying mark. The World Championships, which were to be held in July last year, will be held in August this year in Kenya.

Baljeet, who hails from Kulana in Mansa, has been a trainee at the Punjab Institute of Sports’ (PIS) Patiala centre for five years. Even though the government centres have been shut for training due to Covid-19, Baljeet rented a room and continued to train under PIS coach Gurdev Singh. “Despite the difficult times, she put in the hard work and it shows in her timings,” Gurdev said.

Amandeep’s double silver

Another Punjab athlete, 18-year-old Amandeep Singh Dhaliwal, achieved the qualifying mark for the World Championships. Dhaliwal also won back-to-back silver medals in the U-20 boys’ shot put event. After silver at the Fed Cup last month with a throw of 18.67 metres, he improved his throw at the Guwahati event to 18.75m. The World Championships qualifying mark is 18.30m.

Dhaliwal, who hails from village Shekhupur Khurd, trains at the Sports Department’s Malerkotla centre. Dhaliwal, too, has been training on his own, working with government coach Harminder Pal Singh Ghuman. “He comes to train at my village, where I have built a makeshift throwing circle in my fields,” Ghuman said.

In less than two years, Dhaliwal’s throw with the 6kg shot has improved from 17.23m to 18.75m, which is the season’s world leading throw in the U-20 category.

3 from Haryana meet mark

Three athletes from Haryana also achieved the World Championships qualification mark. Yashvir Singh won silver in boys’ javelin throw with 77.15m. The qualification mark is 69.50m. Ankita was almost 10 seconds faster than the qualification mark, winning gold in the girls’ 1500m in 4:19.58. Pooja was almost a second faster as she won the girls’ 800m gold in 2:07.96.

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