Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will return after months out of action following elbow surgery. The 2016 world junior champion and the national record holder confirmed he will take part in the 59th National Open Athletics Championships starting in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Stadium on Thursday.
Chopra, one of India’s few world-class athletes, was expected to shine in the recent World Athletics Championships in Doha, but injury sidelined him for almost the entire 2019 season. The Ranchi meet comes at the fag end of the season and will help Chopra ease back into competition.
“l’m going to Ranchi as I have got the green signal from the doctor to compete,” he said over phone from Patiala, where he has resumed training at the National Institute of Sports.
It will be a good test for the 21-year-old, whose target is to build up and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The mark he needs to touch is 85 metres, while his national record is 88.06m. The qualification window opened on May 1 and will run till June 29 next year.
Chopra had an outstanding 2018 season—he won the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games titles. The army athlete set the national mark in the Jakarta Asian Games. He last competed in the Services Championships in September last year, where he won gold at 83.90m.
He then went to Potchefstroom, South Africa for international exposure when the elbow problem flared up in March. He underwent surgery in Mumbai the next month. He also missed the Asian Championships in Doha in April.
“The surgery was a success and the rehab has been good. Now, I’m keen to get back to competition. My performance will help me evaluate progress made in rehab,” Chopra said.
Being a season-ending meet, it would be tough for the other leading athletes to come close to their best. Some of them are coming from the Doha Worlds that ended on Sunday.
Men’s 400m national record holder, Muhammed Anas, top long jumper Murali Sreeshankar, 1,500m Asian Games champion Jinson Johnson and women javelin thrower Annu Rani will also compete in the four-day meet. The India women’s relay team members, including VK Vismaya, will be seen in action.
National 3000m steeplechase record holder, Avinash Sable, who twice broke the national mark in Doha last week (8:21.37), will also run, but is unlikely to hit his best again so soon. His army coach Amrish Kumar says Sable will not push hard as the aim will only be to win. “We’ve World Military Games from October 18 in China. The competition will be tough as top runners from Kenya will also compete. There will be heats and final. We have to conserve energy,” he said.
Athletics Federation of India has rejected the 46 entries from Manipur as they don’t belong to the state. It has suspended Karnataka unit for failing to apprise AFI on the non-availability of the venue to host the Open nationals in Bengaluru. The meet was shifted to Ranchi after that. The Karnataka athletes have been allowed as AFI entries.
Oct 09, 2019 19:26 IST