Om Prakash opened the medal hunt for India with a bronze in men’s shot put on a day when woman shot putter P. Udaya Laxmi was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Federation of India after testing positive for an earlier sample taken in June and her name withdrawn.
Day one at the Asian athletics championship was disappointing for India. The shot putter boosted the host’s morale with a medal. “I can assure you that. I represent India. It is my responsibility to keep away from these substances.”
Asked to comment on a bitter-sweet day from shot-putters, he said: “I cannot speak for her (Udaya Laxmi), but my feeling is that most of our athletes are not well educated, especially in this field. Somebody will recommend you to eat unknown substances. Athletes who are unaware of the dangers of consuming unknown things then face problems.”
The post-event routine for Om Prakash includes giving his urine sample, mandatory testing for all AAC medallists.
“I’m in athletics since 2005, took part in European meets and haven’t missed a single dope test. As a regular member of the national team, there is regular testing in Patiala,” he said.
He will hit the European track to assess his form against top class athletes. “I will compete in a couple of European Grand Prix meets and hopefully qualify for the worlds,” said India’s first medallist of the meet at Balewadi.
Armed with a personal best 20.69 and numerous 20-plus throws in his career, a series of 19-plus throws (19.18, 19.45, 19.08, foul, 19.41, 19.05) was below par.
Om Prakash said he held himself back. “The throwing circle was tricky after the rain and I did not wish to risk injury going all out.”
The Gurgaon athlete was sent by the government to Hungary prior to London Olympics and responded with 20.69 at an IAAF meet there to confirm Olympic qualification.
“I aimed for a minimum 20m here. I am getting there, should be able to pull it off in the next two weeks. We have to perform, opportunities will come.”