Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra still looking for competitions; Patiala may host meets
Express News Service
Germany’s Johannes Vetter threw a monstrous 94.20m at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold event on Wednesday. The spear that flew through the air would have carried a message of warning to all javelin throwers eyeing a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He has got down to business of competing in events of repute. This is his fourth competition since February and he has crossed 90m thrice.
Sound of the spear whistling through the air would have been heard in Patiala, too. Asian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra has been yearning for competitions abroad. He is India’s best hope for a medal at Olympics. He has been pleading with authorities for a chance at competing in international events before his first Olympics. If things were normal, perhaps, he would have been in Europe right now competing alongside Vetter. He could have been at the Gateshead Diamond League on May 23. His recent national record of 88.07m is behind Vetter’s.
Chopra, it is learnt, was trying to go to Uppsala in Sweden where a coach was keen to host him. Even he was keen. The sports ministry, JSW, who supports him, and the Athletics Federation of India could not obtain a visa because of strict Covid restrictions in the country. For the time being, he is stuck in Patiala. There is a possibility of sending him to Japan in June if nothing works out.
Perhaps, the only consolation for him would be that some of the top javelin throwers are yet to compete. Estonia’s Magnus Kirt (best of 90.61m), Rio Olympic gold winner Germany’s Thomas Rohler (best of 93.90m) are yet to take part in 2021. Another German, Andreas Hofmann, had last competed in 2019 when he threw 89.65m (PB 92.06m). So did Rio Games silver winner Julios Yego (PB 92.72). Czech Jakub Vadlejch (PB 89.73) competed in two.
Granada’s Anderson Peters, the world champion, competed at Ostrava (4th meet in 2021) but he managed 83.39m, something Chopra won’t be too worried about. Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott bronze winner at Rio Games (85.38m) competed in two. As of now, Chopra needs competition. The European circuit has begun and in the next month, there will be a host of events. Time is running out and AFI knows it too. There are a bunch of athletes who need qualification points too and for that, need competitions for merit (at least B level events) that would fetch them adequate points.
Shot-putter Tajinder Pal Singh Toor is one if he doesn’t manage the 21.10m entry standard. High jumper, Tejaswin Shankar too needs points. He is currently 52 in the Road to Tokyo with 1144 points, 44 adrift of the No 32 placed jumper. The entry standard his 2.33m and Tejaswin’s PB is 2.29m. Perhaps, inter-state nationals would be a place to garner maximum points.
The AFI is mulling competitions in Patiala for the time being. There is a possibility of hosting Indian GP and the inter-state senior nationals at a venue that will not expose the athletes to Covid close to the Olympics. Patiala is a place where most athletes train and there is a possibility it could host two to three competitions before the WA’s June 29 cut off date.
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