Neeraj Chopra sets new javelin mark, two qualify for Commonwealth Games
Neeraj Chopra, the 2016 world junior champion, erased his old meet mark at the Federation Cup; teenager Hima Das achieved Commonwealth Games qualification in women’s 400mUpdated: Mar 06, 2018 20:12 IST
Indian athletics’ poster boy, Neeraj Chopra, seems to have put his disappointment at not qualifying for the javelin throw final at last year’s London world athletics championships behind him.
Chopra bettered his meet record with a throw of 85.94m at the Federation Cup athletics in Patiala on Tuesday, and then credited it to the training he has been undergoing in Germany. The 2016 world junior champion bettered his meet mark of 85.63m with his final attempt.
Assam teenager ran a stunning race in the women’s 400m final to achieve CWG qualification norm along with shot-putter Tajinder Pal Singh Toor.
Chopra had achieved the qualifying norm for the Gold Coast CWG, starting on April 4, at last week’s Grand Prix athletics at the same National Institute of Sports, Patiala.
He performed the season’s best, far better than CWG qualifying mark of 81.80m, but it fell short of the national record of 86.48m he set on way to winning the junior world title in Poland.
He didn’t disappoint after two opening throws of 80m plus. “I had plans to do something special. So, I made an all out effort in the final attempt,” he said.
His impressive effort came despite developing mild elbow pain after the first three throws. “It was hurting, but I had to ignore that,” Chopra added.
For the 2018 season, Chopra has set base in Offenburg, Germany since November. “It helped me a lot,” said Chopra, however adding: “I will train here in India with foreign coach Uwe Hohn for the CWG.”
Hohn, a former German javelin great, had been critical of Chopra not training under him.
Hima, new 400m star
There was lot of excitement in women’s 400m too. The focus was on Assam teenager Hima Das. On her debut in the distance, she surprised all with victory in a stunning effort of 51.97 secs. It came under the CGW qualifying norm of 52 seconds and was the season’s best by an Indian.
The 17-year-old schoolgirl, whose first love is football, switched to track and field only two years ago. At the 2017 Open Nationals, her first national level competition, she clocked 24.22 secs in the 200m.
The women’s 400m national record is 51.05 secs, set by Manjit Kaur. The national junior (u-20) record though is only 53.00 secs.
In the last six months her focus in the national camp has been on improving fitness. After clinching the CWG qualification, foreign coach Galina Buhkarina praised Das saying “It was satisfying performance.”
Hima’s outstanding performance, however, will not help Athletics Federation of India (AFI) put together a relay team. ‘’We just have one athlete under 52 seconds, others are 53 plus runners. So, it will not make a good team,” said CK Valson, AFI secretary general.
Even sending the men’s 4x400m relay team is not on the cards. “The current performance isn’t good. None of the top runners has dipped under 46 seconds in the final,” he said.
Tajinder Pal Singh Toor also achieved the CWG qualifying norm in shot put. He produced a winning effort of 20.24m (QM: 20.20m).
However, it was heartbreak for Kerala’s 18-year-old long jumper Sreeshankar M, who narrowly missed the CWG mark of 8.00m by a whisker. His winning performance was 7.99m. The federation is keen to give him a berth, but Sreeshankar is keen to focus on the junior world athletics championship to be held at Finland in July. “He should get the nod of the selection panel,’’ said Valson.
In women’s long jump, Nayana James once again established she is the best in the country with a winning jump of 6.51m. She qualified for the CWG in the Indian Grand Prix on February 27.