World Athletics: Neeraj Chopra enters the fray to lift India's hopes
The Olympic medallist, who finished with a silver in the last Worlds, looks in form ahead of the qualification rounds on Friday
Ever since Neeraj Chopra lit up Tokyo Olympics with the javelin gold in 2021, every event that the javelin man participates in becomes an event for the sports fans in India. The ongoing World Athletics in Budapest is the biggest of them this year where an in-form Chopra gets down to business in the qualifying rounds on Friday.
Last year, Chopra created history by becoming the first Indian man to seal a medal at the Worlds with a silver from a throw of 88.13 metres. He will aim to change the colour of the medal to gold – not to speak of lifting the moods in the Indian camp which has had a disappointing run so far – with the qualifying rounds starting from 1.30 pm IST. The final of the marquee field event is scheduled on Sunday, August 27.
Apart from Neeraj Chopra, two other Indians: DP Manu and Kishore Jena will also be in action in the men’s javelin throw event.
Chopra suffered a thigh muscle injury soon after the Worlds silver last year, which forced him to skip the Commonwealth Games. The 25-year old returned to action at the season-opening Doha Diamond League this year in May, winning the event with a throw of 88.67m.
He again suffered a muscle injury that forced him to miss the FBK Games, Ostrava Athletics meet and Paavo Nurmi Games. After a month-long recovery he returned to action in Lausanne Diamond League where he returned to his winning ways with a throw of 87.66m. He missed the subsequent Monaco Diamond League to prepare for the ongoing showpiece.
Neeraj’s group includes Grenadian Anderson Peters, the 2019 and 2022 world champion as well as Germany’s Julian Weber, who won the European Championships last year. However, Chopra’s season’s best throw of 88.67 definitely lines him as a medal hope - the second best in Group A after Weber’s 88.72.
Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem, the Commonwealth Games champion in 2022, is in Group B and could be on a collision course for the javelin gold with Chopra.