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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

I was keen to compete in Ranchi: Neeraj Chopra

Chopra, who underwent an elbow surgery in May this year and missed the entire competitive season, was keen on making a comeback and had sent his entry on Monday, which was accepted by the AFI

other-sports Updated: Oct 10, 2019 23:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
File image of India’s Neeraj Chopra.
File image of India’s Neeraj Chopra.(Getty Omages)
         

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) committed a faux pas on Wednesday by initially announcing that national record holder in javelin and India’s most recognisable face in athletics, Neeraj Chopra, would compete in the 59th Open National Championships at Ranchi, which began on Thursday, but later in the day asked him to pull out “as he is not fully fit”.

Chopra, who underwent an elbow surgery in May this year and missed the entire competitive season, was keen on making a comeback and had sent his entry on Monday, which was accepted by the AFI. In fact, the federation also issued a press release on Wednesday afternoon saying that Chopra would compete. But following a late-evening meeting between chief coach Bahadur Singh, deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair and high-performance director from Germany Volker Herrmann took a decision that Chopra should not compete at this moment.

Chopra is currently undergoing training in Patiala. The 21-year-old Army man, whose personal best of 88.06 metres at the Jakarta Asian Games is a national record, wanted to “test himself” after a long layoff in a low-key event.

AFI president Adille Sumariwalla says the “collective decision of the coaches taken on Wednesday evening at Patiala was crucial”. “We can’t take a risk at this juncture as the probability of Chopra pushing himself too hard even in a low-key event is high. It could delay his recovery,” he said.

Chopra had started his rehabilitation at the Inspire Institute of Sports in Vijayanagar (Karnataka) but shifted to Patiala in August to commence serious training.

This is the second time in two years the AFI and Chopra are not on the same page vis-a-vis his training and competition schedule. In November 2017, much against the wishes of the AFI, Chopra initially refused to train under German expert Uwe Hohn in Patiala and shifted base to Offenburg, Germany to train with Werner Daniels, who had guided Christina Obergfoll to victory at the 2013 World Championships. However, before the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the AFI persuaded Chopra to change his mind. “I was keen to compete in Ranchi. I was doing well in training. But the AFI didn’t give me the nod as they think I’m not fit yet. I missed the World Championships (in Doha) and skipping the domestic event will not make much difference,” said Chopra from Patiala.

Deputy chief coach Nair says the future roadmap for Chopra will be chalked out in November as chief coach (Uwe Hohn) is on a vacation. “There could be some changes in Chopra’s training plan,” he said.

Chopra needs to achieve the Olympic qualification mark of 85 metres before the June 29 deadline set by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). The Olympic qualification cycle started on May 1 this year. Chopra says javelin is a very tricky event. “It all depends on how your body reacts on a given day. I’m eager to perform at the highest level next year, which will ensure good preparation before the Olympics.”

First Published: Oct 10, 2019 23:04 IST

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