Neeraj Chopra sets sights on April return
India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will make a return to competitive action in the Federation Cup in April after a gap of nearly 19 months following an elbow surgery.
Chopra’s last major international competition was 2018 Jakarta Asian Games in August where he won gold with a national record of 88.06m.
He then competed at the 2018 Inter Services Athletics Championship in Bengaluru from September 17-20. Since April 2019, Chopra has been sidelined with an elbow injury.
He is currently training in Potchefstroom, South Africa under German biomechanics expert Klaus Bartonietz, who was appointed a year ago to support chief coach Uwe Hohn.
Chopra might compete in some low key events in South Africa before coming back to India for the Federation Cup in Patiala from April 10-13. It will be his first big competition of the season.
“He has been training in South Africa for the past six weeks and enjoying good health. It’s a good sign. He is raring to go,” said Volker Herrmann, India’s high performance director.
The 2016 world junior record holder (86.48m), Chopra is considered a Tokyo Olympics hopeful. The elbow injury, however, put him off the track last year. Following a surgery in Mumbai and rehabilitation at Inspire Institute of Sports in Bellary, Karnataka, he was back to routine training in September but was advised against rushing his comeback.
When contacted at his training base in South Africa, Chopra said he will compete in local competitions at the end of this month or early February to test himself.
“The local competitions will be purely for training purpose as I wouldn’t go all out or aim to set a personal best,” he said.
“The domestic competition will be real test for me. As a good performance would enable me to earn a place in the Diamond League and also help me chalk out future plans.
“The focus at the moment is more on improving strength and not throwing further in training,” he added.
To seal a berth for the Tokyo Olympics, Chopra has to achieve a qualification mark of 85m.
In October, Chopra had spoken of returning to competition at the Open National Athletics Championships in Ranchi, but he dropped out at the last minute on the advice of chief coach Bahadur Singh and the Athletics Federation of India.
After the Federation Cup in April, Herrmann said leading javelin throwers, including Chopra, will go to Europe for international training.
The AFI also plans to send another group of javelin throwers, including Shivpal Singh, whose personal best is 86.23m, to South Africa. Singh recently won silver at South Asian Games held at Kathmandu, Nepal, with a throw of 84.16m.
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