Shivpal Singh Takes His Family’s Love for Javelin a Notch Higher
Apart from Neeraj Chopra, Shivpal is the second Indian javelin-thrower to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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Hailing from a family of javelin-throwers, which included a national champion, India’s Shivpal Singh was destined to follow suit. But when the 24-year-old booked his berth for the Tokyo Olympics in March 2019, he knew he had done something special. He was finally living his family’s dream.
“It’s a dream that all of us saw,” said Shivpal in an interview to The Olympic Channel, saying how important the sport was for the Singh household.
According to Shivpal, who hails from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, it was his grandfather who was the first person in the family to take up javelin-throwing. Soon, his father and uncles also got involved in the sport.
While his father Ramasaray Singh and uncle Shivpujan Singh were good with the spear, it was his other uncle Jagmohan Singh who made a mark nationally in the sport. Jagmohan is former national champion.
The Early Days
The Singh family from Varanasi was already in the habit of churning out quality javelin-throwers generation after generation. Shivpal just took his family’s love for the sport a notch higher.
Though it was already decided that he would be throwing javelins like his father and uncles, it was an early start for Shivpal for a completely different but healthy reason.
According to Shivpal, he was an overweight kid and when he was around 12 years old, his parents sent him to his uncle in New Delhi.
“They just wanted me to be fit. Javelin was never a goal. One could say javelin was the byproduct since my uncle was a javelin-thrower himself,” Shivpal told The Olympic Channel.
And it was here in Delhi that Shivpal spent the next six years of his life honing his javelin skills and training with his national champion uncle.
Describing his training days with his uncle as ‘brutal’, Shivpal doesn’t have any good memories of those but is quick to acknowledge the fact that it was those rigorous training sessions that has made him an athlete of international calibre today.
Injuries & Olympic Quota
But, despite a good run in the domestic circuit, injuries weighed down Shivpal’s career.
In the previous edition of the Asian Games, Shivpal finished a dismal 8th after he could manage only one throw off his three chances due to an elbow injury. But Shivpal had a good 2019 and good form, which he carried forward this year also.
In 2019, Shivpal bagged a silver medal at the Asian Athletics Championships with a throw of 86.23 metres. This was followed by yet another silver, this time at the South Asian Games.
But, nursing an injury in the competition, Shivpal could only manage a throw of 84.16 metres. In fact, he regrets aggravating the injury at the South Asian meet.
Shivpal credits German legend Uwe Hohn for resurrecting his injury-riddled career. It was in March this year that Shivpal crossed the qualifying standard of 85m by hurling the spear to a distance of 85.47m in his fifth attempt.
Shivpal’s effort not only won him gold in the ACNW Meeting in Potchefstroom in South Africa but also assured himself of his maiden Olympic berth.
Shivpal believes that with Hohn by his side, he can break the 90-metre mark despite a problematic knee. And why not. With the Olympic qualification, Shivpal has already announced that the javelin circuit in India has another name in the reckoning apart from Neeraj Chopra.
And with his dedication and hunger for going big, who knows, Tokyo 2020 might be the watershed moment in Shivpal’s career.
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