India’s Kamalpreet Kaur produced one of the best performances by an Indian in the Olympics, though in a qualifying round, to enter the final of the women discus throw at the ongoing Games after finishing second on Saturday.
The 25-year-old from Punjab, competing in qualification B, hurled the disc to a distance of 64 metres in her third and final attempt to finish the round as one of the only two automatic qualifiers for the finals. The other was Valarie Allman of the United States, who had an effort of 66.42 metres.
The final is on August 2.
Kaur placed ahead of defending gold-medallist Sandra Perkovic (63.75m) of Croatia and reigning World champion Yaime Perez (63.18) of Cuba.
Perkovic qualified in third place and Perez in seventh.
Veteran thrower Seema Punia however made an exit after finishing sixth in qualification A and 16th overall with a below-par best throw of 60.57m.
Kaur began with a 60.29m effort and then improved it to 63.97m before her third throw of 64m. Every competitor gets three throws.
Those who attain 64 metres, or emerge among the 12 best performers, in the two qualifying round advance to the final.
Kaur was in impressive form this year, having breached the 65m mark twice. She threw 65.06m during the Federation Cup in March to break the National record and become the first Indian to breach the 65m mark.
Then, in June, she bettered her own National record with a throw of 66.59m during the Indian Grand Prix-4 and was ranked world No. 6.
The season’s best performer, Jorinde van Klinken of the Netherlands, failed to make the final round cut after a modest throw of 61.15m.
She has a season's best of 70.22m while Allman is second-best this year at 70.01m.
Punia, who booked a last-minute Olympics berth, was way below her season and personal best marks.
She fouled in her first throw and registered 60.57m and 58.93m in her next two attempts before exiting from what could be her last Olympics.
The 38-year-old Haryana athlete had made it to the Olympics on the day of qualification deadline with a throw of 63.72m at the National Inter-State Championships in Patiala on June 29.
She has a personal best of 64.84m, the performance coming way back in 2004.
She returned to action only this season after appearing in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta where she won a bronze.
Punia has been training outside the National camp, mostly in Russia and neighbouring countries. She had come to Tokyo with her personal coach Alexander Sinitsyn, who was with her in Jakarta.
It was the veteran discus thrower's fourth Olympics. She never qualified for the final round.
She made her Olympic debut in 2004 in Athens where she had a best throw of 60.64m. In 2012 and 2016 Olympics, she had disappointing performances of 61.91m and 57.58m.
Punia has won laurels for the country in the Commonwealth and Asian Games.
She won a medal each in all four CWGs since 2006 -- three silver and one bronze in all.
She also won a gold and a bronze in the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games respectively.