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Updated on: Sunday, August 01, 2021, 03:11 PM IST

As Kamalpreet gets ready to script history, a look at 9 Indians who came close to rare athletics gold at Olympics

Milkha Singh |

Milkha Singh |

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Kamalpreet Kaur reached the discus throw final at Tokyo 2020 as she registered a monster throw of 64m in the qualifying round on Saturday. The 25-year-old thus became the ninth Indian, and the third discus thrower, to make it to the final of an individual athletics event at the Olympics.

On Saturday, Kamalpreet warmed up with a throw of 60.29m on the first attempt. But the 25-year-old, who had become the first Indian woman to breach the 66m-mark in June, kept raising the bar, hurling the discus to 63.97m on her second attempt and 64m on her third.

She was one of the only two women in the field who qualified for the final automatically – by breaching the 64m mark. The other athlete being USA's Valarie Allman, who topped the qualifying round with a throw of 66.42m.

If the Indian continues to perform the same way in the final on August 2, a medal might not be beyond her. On a day where Kamalpreet raised hopes that India can finally end the medal drought in athletics at the Olympics,

Here's a look at those who made the finals before her

Milkha Singh

The ‘Flying Sikh’ was in the league of his own. He became the first athlete from post-independence India to make the final at a track event at Rome 1960.

Singh came within a hair’s breadth of clinching the medal as well. Up against a stacked field in the 400m race, the Indian lost the bronze medal to South Africa’s Malcolm Spence in a photo finish. America’s Otis Davis, who won the gold, and Germany’s Carl Kaufmann, who took silver, broke the world record mark (45.2s) at the time.

Milkha Singh finished the race in 45.6 seconds, which was a national record at the time at stood for 44 years.

PT Usha

Like Milkha Singh, PT Usha narrowly missed out on the bronze medal and had to settle for a fourth-place finish in 400m hurdles at Los Angeles 1984.

Usha topped her heat with a time of 55.94s. Her timing in the qualifying heat was good enough for her to make the cut for the final. India’s track legend clocked 55.42s in the final, which was an agonizing 0.01seconds away from the podium finish.

Usha was also part of the Indian women’s 4x400m relay team – which also comprised of Shiny Wilson, Vandana Rao and MD Valsamma-- that made it to the finals. The Indian team finished seventh with a timing of 3:32.49.

Sriram Singh

Sriram Singh was perhaps the first middle-distance runner from India to make an impact on the world stage.

He made it to the final of the 800m event at Montreal 1976. Sriram Singh was second in his heat with a timing of 1:45.86. He qualified for the final as he edged out USA’s James Robinson by 0.01 seconds in the semis. The Indian clocked 1:45.77 in the final to finish seventh. It was, however, an Asian record at the time, which stood till 1994.

Gurbachan Singh Randhawa

Even though Gurbachan Singh Randhawa finished fifth in his 110m hurdles heat, his time of 14.37 was good enough to take him to the semifinal at Tokyo 1964.

He finished second in his semifinal group with a timing of 14.04. Randhawa recorded a time of 14.09 in the final to finish fifth.

Anju Bobby George

Much was expected from Anju Bobby George at Athens 2004 as India’s first and only medalist at the IAAF World Championships. Anju had won a bronze in long jump at the 2003 World Championships in Paris and was one of India’s biggest medal hopes at Athens 2004.

The Kerala athlete qualified for the final with a jump of 6.69m. Even though she upped the mark in the final, to 6.83 that was a national record at the time, she had to settle for fifth place.

Krishna Poonia

Krishna Poonia made the final of the women’s discus throw event at London 2012 with a throw of 63.54m on her second attempt.

Her best effort in the final was 63.62m, which came on the fifth and penultimate throw. It saw her finish sixth on the leaderboard.

Vikas Gowda

Vikas Gowda also made the final at London 2012 in men’s discus throw. The US-based athlete was placed fifth after the qualification round with a throw of 65.20.

He finished eighth in the final with the best throw of 64.79m.

Lalita Babar

Lalita Babar made the final of the 3000m steeplechase event at Rio 2016 with a timing of 9:19.76, which was a national record at the time.

The athlete, who comes from the drought prone Satara district in Maharashtra, gave a brave performance in the final as well. She completed the race in 9:22.74 minutes to finish in the 10th place.

(Courtesy: Olympics.com)

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Published on: Sunday, August 01, 2021, 03:07 PM IST
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