Why Neeraj Chopra failed to qualify for IAAF World Championship finals
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Why Neeraj Chopra failed to qualify for IAAF World Championship finals

Neeraj Chopra’s best effort in the preliminary round was 82.26m, which fell just short of the qualifying mark of 83m at the IAAF World Championships.

other sports Updated: Aug 11, 2017 21:19 IST
HT Correspondent
IAAF World Championships,Neeraj Chopra,javelin throw final
Neeraj Chopra failed to reach the IAAF World Championships final.(Getty Images for IAAF)

Neeraj Chopra isn’t unfamiliar with the 83m mark. At three international meets this year, the 19-year-old javelin thrower had recorded 83.32m at the Asian Grand Prix in April, 84.57m at the Paris Diamond League in July and 85.23m at the Asian Championships. His season best of 85.63m --- at the Fed Cup in Patiala in June --- had catapulted Chopra to 14th in the world rankings.

Yet when it mattered most at the World Athletics Championships in London, Chopra --- who holds the U-20 world junior record of 86.48m --- failed to make the qualifying cut set at 83m. After the event, Chopra said absence of a specialised coach had affected his performance. “Had there been a coach, it would have been different,” he was quoted as saying after the event.

However, former national coach Garry Calvert told HT that Neeraj may not have been well-prepared for the event. “He must have been under pressure to perform. Technically, Neeraj had some flaws too. I feel that he didn’t prepare well for the world stage,” the Australian told HT. “Since the field is so strong, you have to be at your best. If you slip, your chances are gone.”

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Calvert was the specialised javelin coach for the national camp for almost a year till he quit this May. Since then, Chopra trained on his own. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has roped in former world record holder Uwe Hohn of Germany but he will only join in September.

Deputy national coach Radhakrishnan Nair, who was overseeing the javelin throwers’ training in London, however raised another issue. According to Nair, Neeraj was travelling a lot and had missed training sessions after the Asian Championship in Bhubaneswar this July. “He should have focused on training than compete in the Monaco Diamond League (in the end of July),” Nair told Hindustan Times over phone from London.

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“There wasn’t any pressure on him. He was confident because he has been regularly hitting the 83m mark. But he failed to click at the right time,” he said.

Despite a week-long training in Germany just before the tournament, Chopra’s body language wasn’t inspiring on Thursday. He managed 82.26m in his first attempt but the next was ruled a ‘no throw’. Usually he manages his best in the third and final throw, but this time he threw 80.54m. He finished seventh in the group.

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Five qualified from Group A where Chopra was pitted against 14 other throwers. Good news for India is that Davinder Singh has qualified for the final from Group B that had 16 throwers. Davinder Singh finished fifth in his group with a throw of 84.22m.

Even Davinder’s coach, and former national champion, Kashinath Naik said Chopra must have been undone by a technical tweak in his throw. “A high angle during release can decrease the distance by two-three metres. It must have happened in case of Neeraj too,” he said.

First Published: Aug 11, 2017 18:06 IST