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Posted at: Jul 14, 2017, 1:49 AM; last updated: Jul 14, 2017, 1:49 AM (IST)

King Kang roars

Asian C’ship bronze medallist Davinder gears up for Worlds
King Kang roars
Javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang won the Asian Championships bronze with a throw of 83.29m in Bhubaneswar. File photo

Indervir Grewal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13

Davinder Singh Kang sounds angry, he admits. “But I am not,” Kang insists. The 28-year-old javelin thrower from Punjab says he is anxious. “From where do I begin?” he asks.

“I spent a year out of the national camp despite being among the top-two throwers in India. I had to spend on accommodation, diet, while living in Patiala. I had to borrow money from fellow throwers, coaches,” says the Naib Subedar in the Army.

After a year of struggle, his intense training finally started to show the results. At the Indian Grand Prix Leg 1, Kang shattered his personal best to not only win the gold medal but also qualify for the World Championships, to be held in August.

Davinder, whose previous personal best was 80.21m, achieved 84.57m to qualify for the London event. He followed it up with 81.53m to win gold at Leg 3, and 83.82m to win silver behind Neeraj Chopra at the Federation Cup.

However, a positive test for marijuana put his participation at the Asian Championships and the Worlds in doubt. Though he was permitted to participate in the Asian Championships, where he won the bronze medal, he will still have to present his case in front of a disciplinary committee. “I was again made to go through a trial for the Asian Championships. I have already qualified for the Worlds!” Kang contends. “My shoulder was a little stiff; despite that I threw over 77m at the trials.”

Asian medal

Despite a “niggle” in his right shoulder, Kang produced one of his best efforts at the Asian Championships, winning the bronze with a throw of 83.29m.

“I went over the qualifying mark for the World Championships again, but couldn’t achieve the target I had set myself,” says Kang. “My right shoulder was troubling me but the crowd support motivated me.” With less than a month left for the World Championships, the niggle has only increased his anxiety.

“I take medicine to keep myself calm,” says Kang, who admits having picked up the habit of self-medication. “I take other traditional medicines as well.”

But Kang is confident he will get over these latest problems as well. “Despite all the problems, I never lost the motivation. Over the last year and a half, I worked very hard on my fitness; I reduced my weight from 108kg to 84kg. I was out of the camp but I worked even harder on my own,” he says.

“I wasn’t included in the camp because I didn’t want to train under Australian Garry Calvert (former national coach). After seeing me train, he told me I couldn’t improve. How could I train with him?”

“At that time, I faced monetary problems. My father is a small farmer and my salary isn’t enough,” says the native of Chak Shakur village in Jalandhar.

“The father of a junior thrower whom I train lent me Rs 1 lakh. I have borrowed so much from Neeraj. He represents Haryana, which awards so much money even for participation. Punjab, meanwhile, has given me no monetary support till date.”

“But I keep getting support from coaches and former throwers. The Punjab Institute of Sports (PIS) supported me by letting me use its training space and accommodation in Jalandhar so I didn’t have to travel too much. Bikram Singh (PIS coach in Jalandhar) helped me train, worked on my technique.”

‘World Championships next target’

“I am an optimist,” Kang says in his booming voice. He keeps motivating himself with reassuring words. “While everyone is celebrating, I am getting physiotherapy done on my shoulder. I am in training already. I have faith that my shoulder will get better and I will produce my best in London,” Kang said.

Marijuana episode

"My body temperature became very high and I started bleeding from the nose. I tried different remedies but nothing worked. A friend got me thandai (traditional drink sometimes made with marijuana) from Rajasthan. I drank it for five days and it worked. After the positive test, I consulted a few senior throwers, who told me that I would most likely be let off with a warning. I have done research and many international athletes received only warning or a ban for three months"

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