It was not easy to leave behind his father, who is battling cancer in a Punjab hospital, but shot putter Tajinder Pal Singh Toor remained strong and focussed as he finished with a historic gold medal on Saturday in Jakarta.

Not only the 23-year-old from Moga win a gold, but set a new Games record as he threw the iron ball a staggering 20.75 metres in his fifth attempt. It bettered a six-year old mark set by Om Prakash Karhana (20.69 metres).

Toor said his target going into the finals was to clear the 21-metre mark. “I had just one aim in mind. I wanted to clear 21-metre. I did not think of gold. But I am happy with this. I was trying hard to break the national record for the last 2-3 years and it happened today, that too with a meet record,” Tajinder said.

Tajinder paid tribute to his family. “This medal is my biggest achievement because a lot of sacrifices have been made. For the last two years, my father (Karam Singh) has been battling cancer. My family though never let me get distracted. They allowed me to chase my dream. A lot of sacrifices have been made by my family and friends, and all of it has been repaid today.”

“My family never pressurized to attend my father in hospital and it was always my friends who took care of all the hospital formalities in my absence. I have not gone home much in this period since I was training in Dharamsala,” he said.

The burly Tajinderpal trains with MS Dhillon, whose ward had words for praise for him. “Now I will meet my dad but I will be there for only two days; I have to get ready for the next challenge. My coach MS Dhillon also needs to be credited for the hard work he had put in,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)