Manpreet: My daughter told me ‘come back, it’s too much now’

Manpreet, who on Thursday clinched a gold medal in women’s shot put at the Asian Athletics Championships, trains at the NIS Patiala with her husband-coach Karamjit Singh while her daughter, Jasnoor, has been staying with her paternal grandmother for the past couple of years.

Manpreet, who sent the iron ball soaring at 18.28m, her second best throw of her career after a national record of 18.86m, represented the country at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 and then took a break of three years following her marriage and birth of her daughter.   -  PTI

Training at a national camp away from her small child is tough for any mother but newly-crowned Asian shot put champion Manpreet Kaur is facing an additional pressure — her five-year-old daughter has told her “enough is enough” and she should now come back to her.

Manpreet, who on Thursday clinched a gold medal in women’s shot put at the Asian Athletics Championships, trains at the NIS Patiala with her husband-coach Karamjit Singh while her daughter, Jasnoor, has been staying with her paternal grandmother for the past couple of years.

Jasnoor stays at the same city — Patiala — with her grandmother but Manpreet rarely goes to meet her due to hectic training at the NIS and most of the time, she is being told about her daughter’s well being by her mother-in-law. Now that Jasnoor is old enough to feel her mother’s absence, she has been telling Manpreet to spend more time with her.

“Jasnoor will be six years in a few months and my mother-in-law looked after my baby from the very beginning when I started training when she (Jasnoor) was 10 months old. I would keep speaking to my mother-in-law daily on phone to ask about Jasnoor,” Manpreet told PTI in an interview.

“She has started knowing things now, what is happening around etc. She knows my competition (at Asian Championships) is over but I am still staying back. She told me why I am not coming back. Come back, it is too much now, she told me over phone,” said Manpreet when asked she was coping with her child being left out alone at home.

“Both me and my husband are not with her and so she feels it even though she is with her grandmother, that is natural. What do I do, I have to do for the country also. I feel satisfied that I am doing something at least for the country. It is worth the sacrifice,” said Manpreet, who turned 27 on the day she won the gold to open India’s medal account.

Manpreet, who sent the iron ball soaring at 18.28m, her second best throw of her career after a national record of 18.86m, represented the country at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 and then took a break of three years following her marriage and birth of her daughter.

She returned to the competitive arena early last year and qualified for the Rio Olympics where she failed to qualify for the final round.

“It was a difficult period after the birth of Jasnoor. I have to start training slowly, step by step, because I have to be careful not to hurt myself which would result stopping training altogether. If there is family support you can do anything. I got the support from my family. That is why I am here today. If family is together it feels very good,” she said with her husband by her side.

She has a hectic training schedule at the NIS Patiala under Karamjit, also a former shot putter.

“If I have weight training today, I will have throw tomorrow. Power work (weight training etc.) is more in shot put. In a week, there will be at least three sessions of weight training.

“If I have to do morning and evening training both in a day, then a session will have maximum of two hours. If I have to do just one session in a day, then it is of three to three-and-a half hours duration.” she explained.

For a practitioner of a power sport, Manpreet is basically a vegetarian and she eats non-vegetable rarely, mostly while she is abroad for training or competition.

“Most of the time, I don’t eat non-vegetarian. But when I go outside India I don’t get vegetarian food, so I have to take non-vegetarian there. But I try to be a vegetarian as much as possible. It is not that a shot putter will have to eat non-vegetarian. It is nothing like that,” she asserted firmly.

Born at a village near Patiala, Manpreet understands the women’s plight in this country but she said the situation has improved now from the time she was a child.

“After I passed 12th class, I got a job at Indian Railways and after that I did my bachelor’s degree. I would urge women to take up to up sport. It makes you strong physically. There has been a change to a certain extent in the system and thinking of the people.

“People have started showing interest in sports and parents are putting their children to sports. It was not like this earlier. For men, it was all right earlier also. The situation was different for women, why women should take up sport and like this. But now it is changing slowly. A lot of women are doing well in sports. In fact, I feel in India, women are getting more medal,” said the national record holder.

But she is hurt that the private sector has not come to support her in a big way.

“Before the Olympics, I got sponsors from two companies. But after the Olympics I have no sponsors and no support from any private sector company. We are now training from our pocket only and it is hard. We have to look after our home as well as train also,” she rued.

“Private sector involvement is poor, especially in North India. In South India, it is better and athletes from there are getting sponsors. It will be good for an athlete to get a sponsor or get financial support from business houses or private sector companies. If I want to do good but is having financial problem, then we experience setback and have to pull back.

“If there is no financial issues, our minds are free and can do better. If there is financial support, the athletes will have freedom mentally and can do better.”

She also felt that the doping menace in athletics could be tackled if proper awareness is given to them. “In India, proper guidance is required. If athletes lack awareness, at least the coaches should be aware about doping. There is a need to tell the athletes which supplement is right and free of banned substances. Athletes do not know which substance or food supplement they should take or not take. This is the main issue.

“By seeing the label, athletes would think it (food supplement) was not contaminated and so they take it, but what is there or not you don’t know. When I went to Poland for training before Rio Olympics (with other Indian athletes), the food supplements came after testing at their official laboratories, certifying that they are dope free. They would say it is dope free and you can take it. The athletes will then have a free mind to take it,” she said.

By winning the Asian Championships title, she has got an automatic berth for the World Championships in London next month, but Manpreet has no plans to train or compete abroad before the big event.

“I will take part in the National Inter-state Championships (beginning next week in Guntur) and then will go to London with the Indian team. There is not much international meets and we are not going to train abroad. There is not much time for foreign training. My event at World Championships is on August 12,” she said.

“In the World Championships, I will compete against the best in the world and I will learn things and that will be very useful for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. I want to do the country proud in the CWG and Asian Games and then the 2020 Olympics,” she signed off.