This discus thrower fought through a life-changing injury to bring victory to India

Meet Navjeet Kaur Dhillon a discus thrower who won a Commonwealth medal despite a severe injury. This is the story of her recovery and unwavering determination.
Her story proves that if you work hard, you can achieve success.
Reader Submission Updated: 9 May 2021, 00:49 am IST
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My name is Navjeet Kaur Dhillon and I am an Indian discus thrower from Punjab. I grew up as an extremely pampered child. However, the reason for choosing sports was that I wanted to do something different than the rest of the girls. I wanted it to be something that would bring me fame and recognition. 

When I decided to make a career in discus
I used to go to the ground every day after school with my brother and parents. My brother, who is five years elder to me, used to train for shot put. Eventually, he started earning medals along with fame. Seeing my brother shine, I realized this field can bring me more success and recognition than academics ever will.

So, I decided to make a career in the field of sports since it ran in the family!

I was 12 when I bagged my first-ever silver medal at Nationals. At that time, my father told me that discus throw is a very difficult game and takes a lot of strength. But I was extremely determined to make it and my brother motivated me. Finally, I also received support from my father. That is how my journey in the field of sports started.

The hurdles I overcame
Initially, my father’s coach opposed the idea of letting a girl get into sports. He cautioned my family about various hardships. However, my parents never discriminated between me and my brother. 

Navjeet Kaur Dhillon with her dad, her coach.

They were very supportive of my career choice, especially my father since he’s also been a sportsman. He wanted me to achieve all that he couldn’t in his life. When I broke a record for the first time in my life, my father said that he expected me to bag an Olympics Medal someday. What my father said that day is still alive in my mind.

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However, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds because women weren’t allowed to move out of their houses or do something unconventional back in those times. People around me had a lot of questions in their minds when I chose sports as a career. But I was earning medals and my father was proud of me. His support really motivated me to continue and no other opinion mattered as much as his.

When depression and anxiety hit me for the first time
I was 16 years old when I won my first international medal. In 2014, I won a Bronze medal in Junior World at World Championship. It was very special, not just at a personal level but also a National one because India won that medal after a gap of 10 whole years. 

Navjeet Kaur Dhillon

It felt like everything was going as I planned. In the field of sports, it is very normal to have injuries. I kept recovering from them and moving forward. However, fame and success was accompanied by a lot of pressure. 

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When I was performing well, I was winning fame and medals. It gave me a lot of anxiety to think that I’ll lose all of it someday. When one performs well, they’re bestowed with appreciation and success but what happens when you can’t perform as well?

In 2015, I became very depressed but I still continued my training. I returned home and aimed at giving my best in the Commonwealth Games 2018. For an entire year, I focused on my training in the US. I was fully prepared and determined to attain the medal. 

An unforgettable injury and my final victory
In the first week of January 2018, I met with a serious injury in the groin. For two consecutive months, I was in extreme pain. I couldn’t even walk. I used to bandage myself and go to the ground. I took physiotherapy and only I know how I managed to keep myself motivated through it all. My trials were towards the end of February. 

Navjeet Kaur Dhillon

One day before the final competition, the pain grew tremendously. I took three pain-killers on the day of the competition before appearing on the ground. The match was in the evening and I won the medal. The next thing I knew was I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I reminded myself of all the hardships I faced in the past three months. The only thing that was on my mind at that moment was that when we work hard for something, we can achieve anything in the world. 

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The one whom I owe my victory to
My biggest inspiration has been my father. I wanted to do all this for him.

My father once said during my training days that he gave up on sports too soon in his life even though he had immense talent. He further added that he wanted me to accomplish all that he couldn’t in his life.

I think my father is like an inspiration to all the parents in the world whose daughters wish to do something or achieve something in their lives. 

When I was young, my father used to massage my legs the night before the competition. Even though he himself had pain in his knees, but whenever we used to need something, he always used to be there for us, with us.

Also, listen:

If there’s one person who should credit for where I am today, it is my father.

I’d like to remind all the women that women are no less than a man in any sphere of life. So, keep working hard and keep shining!

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