Motivated by Haryanvi gaalis, Yashvir breaks Neeraj’s javelin mark at U-20 Federation Cup athletics

January 26, 2021

AthleticsFederation Cup


When javelin thrower Yashvir Singh bagged the gold medal with a new meet record at the U-20 Federation Cup at Bhopal on Monday, he wasn’t particularly elated. The 19-year-old, who overtook Neeraj Chopra’s meet record of 76.91m with a best attempt of 78.68m, wasn’t satisfied with his effort, nor was his father and coach Rai Singh.

“I would say I am only 70 per cent happy. I am actually disappointed that he could not cross the 80m mark today. So it’s not really an occasion to celebrate,” Rai Singh says.

The Bhopal U-20 Federation Cup is the first national-level athletics tournament in the country since the COVID outbreak, but the junior athletes did not seem rusty as two more meet records were shattered in the middle-distance events.

Although Yashvir replaced a star like Chopra in the meet record books, it is only fair to mention that the 2018 Asian and Commonwealth Games champion had set his mark at the age of 17, two years younger than Yashvir is now.

Like all athletes across the globe, Yashvir’s training and competition planning were badly hampered due to the pandemic. He was a strong contender for a podium spot at the World Athletics U-20 Championships, which were postponed. He won’t be eligible to take part in the rescheduled event, now slated for August this year.

“I had an excellent chance but the pandemic derailed everything. I was in good form and had really practised well. It is heart-breaking that I won’t be able to participate in the competition now,” Yashvir says.

But Yashvir and his father are now looking ahead. They have reworked their goals and now Olympic qualification is their primary target. Coach Rai Singh did not want his son to sit at home during this COVID-induced break. The railways coach, who is currently stationed at Jaipur, took Yashvir to their village in Haryana’s Bhiwani district.

“We set up a small training facility in our fields, including a small gym for weight training and a sandpit. We even had basic weight training tools. Our field became my son’s stadium during the break,” says Rai Singh.

He has no qualms in admitting that he is a strict taskmaster. The chirpy coach believes the most effective motivation is “Haryanvi Gaalis” (cuss words).

“He gets a truckload of gaalis during training. If I ask him to do something twice and he doesn’t, that’s how I get him back on track. I am really harsh at times on the ground but at home, I am his friend,” Rai Singh, a former javelin thrower himself, says.

Yashvir always led a very active lifestyle even before taking up javelin throwing at 15. His father nudged him towards basketball and swimming to stay fit and “build a body for javelin throwing”.

It almost feels Rai Singh pushed his son into athletics but it is far from the truth.

“I had seen paper clippings of my father and had heard so many stories about him. I wanted to be like him. He is my role model and inspiration,” says Yashvir.

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