‘Coach’ Vipin Kasana’s last shot as javelin thrower

Seasoned javelin thrower Vipin Kasana is no stranger to setbacks. The 31-year-old, who has represented the country at the 2014 and ’18 editions of the Commonwealth Games, has suffered a slipped disc and five (hairline) fractures on his back ,but none of that could derail his career,

But the real threat came in September last year when the NCR-based athlete was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver complication. “Forget sports, the fact that I am standing on my feet today is a blessing. At that time everything looked bleak. I just wanted to survive,” says Vipin.

Vipin, who was part of the training camp with Neeraj Chopra in South Africa, was among the participants at the Javelin Nationals being held in New Delhi. Just a few months back Kasana was donning a different hat. He coached para-athletes Sandeep Chaudhary and Navdeep – both of them finished fourth in their respective classes at the Tokyo Paralympics.

“Well, since I wasn’t fit enough to compete I thought the best thing would be to train others. I really felt uncomfortable sitting idle at home. I wanted to contribute to the sport in any way I could. I didn’t let this break go to waste. I have finished two courses – a level one coaching course from World Athletics and one from National Institute of Sports,” says Vipin.

Vipin feels coaching para-athletes helped him understand the sport better. “The first few days were tough. I had to understand the athletes’ body but after that everything was smooth. As a coach, you have to put yourself mentally in the athlete’s body. It’s all about feel,” says Vipin.

The liver complication, which almost needed a transplant, happened due to the prolonged use of painkillers. Kasana says the slipped disc, that occurred during a weightlifting exercise in 2010, is a recurrent injury and causes his constant discomfort. “Most people who not even be able to stand upright if they had faced similar back issues but I have competed against top athletes. I have been taking painkillers for my back for almost 10 years at that has taken a toll on my liver,” says the father of two.

At the qualification round, Vipin sealed a spot in the finals with his first and only throw of 66.73m. The outcome of Sunday’s final, Vipin says, will help him decide whether he wants to give the sport another shot as an active athlete.

“I need a good throw on Sunday to get back into the national camp. If I don’t make it to the camp then there’s no point in training as an athlete. You need the best resources to be an elite athlete and I can’t do it all by myself training here,” says Vipin.

Vipin admits that he is not in the best of shapes coming into the nationals. The liver illness that forced him to be on best rest for almost six months has weakened his muscles. He has not resumed full-fledged training as well. “I haven’t been able to train much but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten how to throw the javelin. It’s an art that once you learn you never forget. As far fitness is concerned, just give me three months I will be back in top form,” says Vipin, who has a personal best of 82.51m.

Vipin likes to keep a very practical approach towards sports and life in general. He doesn’t really like to display emotions. “We can’t change things by worrying about it right?” he says, just before two young throwers walked up to him seeking “coach” Vipin’s blessing. Vipin takes an update on the youngsters’ results and gives them a pat on their back before he continues the interaction.
“This is something I love. I cannot stay from sports. Life has given me a lot of so-called second chances. This is another one. Let see what happens,” says Vipin.

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