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Updated January 26th, 2024 at 18:52 IST

Inspired by Neeraj Chopra, Javelin thrower Deepika continues habit of breaking records at KIYG 2023

Featuring in her fourth Khelo India Youth Games, Deepika broke her previous meet record by throwing at a distance of 56.79m to clinch the gold medal at the Jaw

Deepika breaks record at Khelo India Youth Games
Deepika breaks record at Khelo India Youth Games | Image:KIYG
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Bangaon is a quiet village of 5,000-odd residents situated in Fatehabad district of Haryana. Athletics coaches refer to it as the ‘Mini Finland of Haryana’ due to the surge in javelin medals from the area. For the residents of Bangaon, scripting new records in javelin throw competitions, however, is a regular affair.

On Thursday, it was 17-year-old Deepika’s turn to improve on her own record. Featuring in her fourth Khelo India Youth Games, Deepika broke her previous meet record by throwing at a distance of 56.79m to clinch the gold medal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. She has been a part of the Government of India’s Khelo India scholarship scheme from 2022 as well.

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The man behind her surge is Hanuman Singh, who does the talking and allows his wards to express themselves on the field. And as it turned out, it’s easier getting records out of Deepika than getting out sentences or even words. When on field, the Haryana girl does not shy away from breaking javelin records, but once the event is over, Deepika’s answers to every question thrown at her are smiles and giggles.

Try asking Deepika how she does create records so often, she giggles and deflects the question to her coach Hanuman Singh. “She has been working very hard. She does whatever she is asked to. It is the discipline that has helped her break one record after another,” replies Hanuman.

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Why javelin, when Haryana offers a variety of sports for women like boxing, wrestling, hockey? “While growing up, Deepika tried a little bit of everything. Then Neeraj Chopra happened, and she decided to take up javelin as a career. Looking at all her records, she was right in took the right decision,” Hanuman said, as Deepika watched her coach reveal her liking to the discipline.

Unlike her hero Neeraj Chopra, Deepika has short hair. When asked why, she replied, “Ask my coach, he told me to.” Hanuman comes up with an instant reply, “This is one of the conditions to join the academy, it helps in training.”
This was her fourth medal at the Khelo India Youth Games. Barring the silver she won at the Guwahati games in 2020, Deepika earned three gold medals. She broke the first record with 51.37m distance in Panchkula. In the Bhopal Games, she bettered the record with 55.19m distance.

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Humble beginnings

While the nearest synthetic track is around 65kms from their village, Hanuman had set up his academy in an abandoned chicken farm, owned by a relative. Hanuman, a medallist at the state and national levels, began coaching in his village in 2010, and since then has produced a number of record-breakers.

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He recalled that the year 2017 was a turning point in his coaching career, when his trainee Jyoti bagged the U-20 gold with a meet record at the Junior Nationals while Poonam Rani bagged silver medals at the senior Fed Cup, Open Nationals and Inter-State Meet. “The surge started from there, all these kids were inspired by their feats, and wanted to prove themselves on the big stage,” Hanuman commented.

As for Deepika, the daughter of a farmer, who lives next door to his academy, she is tasked to fetch a bucket of drinking water and refilling it during training sessions. 
This Deepika, who started life in the humblest of humble settings, now has two Under-16 and five Under-18 records to her name at the Khelo India Youth Games. She is now on her way to Khelo India University Games scheduled to be held in Guwahati in February

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Published January 26th, 2024 at 18:52 IST

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