It's all happening in Salinas

It is a fact that elite discus throwers, the ones who are able to master heavy headwinds, come up with some very long throws in places like Chula Vista and Salinas, with the latter being the throwers’ big favourite.

A file picture of Krishna Poonia.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

There is something about Salinas that excites discus throwers.

Two weeks ago, national record-holder Krishna Poonia and her husband-cum-coach Virendar Poonia rushed from Chula Vista to Salinas, nearly 700kms away on the California coast, when they heard that Asian Games champion Seema Antil Punia had qualified for the Rio Olympics with a season-best 62.62m there.

There was another throws meet in Salinas the following day, and Krishna, the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was keen to book her Rio berth from there.

“The wind at Salinas is great for discus throw, you can gain two to three metres extra with a one kg discus, the type women use,” Virendar told Sportstar from Chula Vista.

“But, of course, you must have proper action and technique for that.”

It is a fact that elite discus throwers, the ones who are able to master heavy headwinds, come up with some very long throws in places like Chula Vista and Salinas, with the latter being the throwers’ big favourite.

Two of the five best ever throws in the men’s section have come in Salinas, from Estonian Gerd Kanter.

Salinas has also frequently offered Vikas Gowda, the men’s national record holder, his season best — including the 64.35m in 2004 which helped him break the then national record and qualify for the Athens Olympics.

Some of Krishna’s best throws have also come at Salinas, though she was unable to make the Rio qualification standard in her latest attempt there, a 57.48m effort a few days ago.

“She started throwing just three months ago after the knee surgery. You need to be throwing for at least five months to get good results,” explained Virendar.

The seasoned Krishna (personal best 64.76m), who was sixth in the 2012 London Olympics, will have another chance to qualify for Rio at the Last Chance Olympic Qualifier in Chula Vista on Saturday.

“We have two or three meets lined up. We want Salinas but I don’t know whether they will have a meet there in the next few days,” said Virendar.

“If there is something in Salinas again, Krishna will be able to produce 62 or 63m for sure.”

While headwinds are a sprinter’s nightmare, experienced discus throwers consider it a blessing for it maximises lift, keeping the discus aloft longer which results in massive throws. And with wind speed in Salinas frequently running close to seven metres per second, discus throwers thrive there.

There is also a quartering wind, or wind blowing obliquely, there which helps throwers and makes the place special.

“The maximum they can gain from such headwinds could be one metre,” says Radhakrishnan Nair, the Deputy National coach.

“And it all depends on technique and how you learn to manage the wind.”