Paris Olympics, breaking 90m barrier my goals for the year: Neeraj Chopra

Javelin’s golden boy to start season at Doha Diamond League in May

Neeraj Chopra had beaten both Vadlejch and Peters in Doha last season (photo courtesy: JSW Sports)
Neeraj Chopra had beaten both Vadlejch and Peters in Doha last season (photo courtesy: JSW Sports)

NH Sports Bureau

Neeraj Chopra, India’s golden boy in javelin, will begin the 2024 season at the Doha Diamond League meet in May as a build-up to defend his Olympics gold in Paris in August. Kishore Jena, his compatriot who finished with a silver to Neeraj’s gold in the Hangzhou Asian Games, will be making his Diamond League debut in Qatar.

“This year, my personal goal is to defend my Olympic title but it would also mean a lot to me to break the 90m barrier. The Doha meeting, with good conditions and a great atmosphere, is a perfect opportunity to get my season off to the best start,” Neeraj told the League website.

Speaking about the rousing support he receives from the Indian expat crowd, the Olympic and world champion said: “I’m always overwhelmed by the warm support I get from Indians across the world and in Qatar that is particularly special. I feel privileged that so many people come out to support me and I hope I can repay their faith in me with a good performance.”

The first Indian athlete to win the Diamond League top spot in 2022, Neeraj finished second last season behind the Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch, the Tokyo 2020 silver medallist, in the finals. The two will square off against each other at the Qatar Sports Club in Doha on 10 May. Former world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada will also be in fray. Incidentally, Chopra had beaten both Vadlejch and Peters in Doha last season.

The Diamond League is an annual series of athletics competitions - comprising several disciplines - held over the year. Athletes earn points from each series in their respective events in an attempt to qualify for the season-ending Diamond League Finals.

It will be a ‘first’ at the elite League for Jena while both the Indian javelin throwers were last involved in competitive action at the Asian Games last year.

European champion Julian Weber of Germany, World Championship finalist Oliver Helander of Finland, Japan’s Roderick Genki Dean, Asian Championships gold medallist, are also in the start list for Doha.

The Diamond League 2024 series starts in Xiamen, the People’s Republic of China on 20 April and the final will be held in Brussels in September. The Doha leg is the third event of the series.

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