New Delhi: In a major boost to Indian athletics, rising star Navjeet Kaur Dhillon clinched the bronze medal in the women’s discus throw at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championship late on Friday night at Eugene, USA. Rising to the occasion, the 19-year-old Dhillon produced a stunning performance, throwing the discus to a scintillating 56.36 metres in Hayward Field after opening her series with a personal best of 54.08 metres.
Dhillon is only the second Indian athlete after Commonwealth Games medalist Seema Antil (Punia) to win a medal in the IAAF World Junior Championships. Antil’s bronze medal had also come in discus — an iconic event now for Indian women athletes — at the 2002 edition in Kingston, Jamaica. The big stage didn’t unnerve Dhillon, who improved her personal best by almost two and-a-half metres at the Championship. Dhillon’s previous best was 53.97m which was achieved at the Junior Federation Cup at Chennai in May.
An elated Navjeet Kaur Dhillon said, “This is a dream come true. I’m thankful to my coaches and the AFI President Mr Adille J Sumariwalla for supporting me throughout. I hope to achieve greater heights for the country in the future.”
The gold medal went to Brazil’s Izabela da Silva, who also set a world junior mark of 58.03m to become the first woman athlete from her country to win a world championship title. American Valarie Allman (56.75m) grabbed the silver while China’s 2011 IAAF World Youth Championship silver medalist Yan Liang came close to India’s bronze medalist with a throw of 56.27 in the final round.
Dhillon came into the limelight for the first time in 2011 when she won the bronze medal in the Commonwealth Youth Games at Douglas (Isle of Man) with a throw of 45.27m. She finished sixth in the 2013 Asian Grand Prix and seventh in the 2013 Asian Championships at Pune. She also won the silver in the discus throw (53.66m) at the 2014 Asian Junior Championships at Taipei last month in addition to a bronze in shot put (14.99m). In the Junior Federation Cup this year, Dhillon set a new National junior record in shot put (15.89m) and bagged a double with the discus title throwing a noteworthy 53.97m. She is also the reigning Inter-University champion.