Indian Olympic Association’s directive notwithstanding, champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra’s participation in the upcoming National Games looks doubtful, as he is coming off a groin injury and a gruelling season.
Olympic gold medallist Chopra achieved yet another historic feat on Thursday when he became the first Indian to win the prestigious Diamond League Finals title in Zurich, signing off the international season on a rousing note. A day later, he was asked about competing in the National Games, which will be held across cities in Gujarat from September 29 to October 12. “The National Games are approaching. I am just coming back from a groin injury, and I may not be able to train for one or two weeks. So I am primarily focussed on next year,” Chopra told reporters. With the IOA making it mandatory for the country’s top athletes to take part in the Games, many sports persons could have to rejig their training schedules.
The IOA directive came after Home Minister Amit Shah launched the mascot and the anthem for the Games, which Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said would be the “biggest and grandest” ever.
The National Games are being held after a gap of seven years. The groin issue had forced Chopra to skip the Commonwealth Games in July-August, right after the World Championships in the USA, where he had claimed a silver medal. But Chopra had made a spectacular return from the one-month injury lay-off by winning the Lausanne-leg of the Diamond League series on August 26 and qualifying for the Finals here. He had become the first Indian to clinch a Diamond League meet title in Lausanne with his third career-best throw of 89.08m.
In Zurich, Chopra began with a foul but jumped to the top spot with a throw of 88.44m — his fourth career best — in his second attempt, and that turned out to be his winning effort. He had 88.00m, 86.11m, 87.00m and 83.60m in his next four throws.
Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic finished second with a best throw of 86.94m which he registered in his fourth attempt. Julian Weber of Germany was third with a best of 83.73m.