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Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra flies to Europe, first competition at Lisbon meet

The 23-year-old qualified for the Olympics and by the time he started training in Turkey, the lockdown in March forced him back to the country.

Published: 07th June 2021 12:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2021 12:29 AM   |  A+A-

Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra

Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: As we race towards Tokyo 2020, it would be safe to say young javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is one of the favourites to land a medal. The thrower is fit and, in his words, ‘without niggles' as of now. He had been dogged by injuries and was forced to miss all of 2019 season due to injury. But that is the past tense.

It was not until January last year that Neeraj could make a comeback. The 23-year-old qualified for the Olympics and by the time he started training in Turkey, the lockdown in March forced him back to the country.

He spent the year training at the National Centre of Excellence in Pati­ala. In his first two competitions back, he threw a national record of 88.07m and a creditable 87.80m. However, the deprivation of competition was unbearable for him.

As the European circuit started last mo­nth and became abuzz especially with the Olympics fast approaching, anxiety was visible in Neeraj's words. All he wa­n­ted was competition. More so with some of his competitors including the indomitable Joha­n­nes Vetter (who even breached the 96m+ mark) started competing.

Finally after a long wait, Neeraj flew to Europe when he took a flight to Paris on Saturday night. He is set to begin his European competition in Lisbon. The meet he is set to enter is the Meeting Cidade de Lisboa (Meeting, City of Lisbon, June 10) at the Estádio Universitário (University Stadium). He will take it like a training competition. The Target Olympics Podium Scheme had already approved his European training-cum-competition trip.

For Neeraj, who managed a national record in his second event of the season during the Indian GP 3, competing at the London Diamond League (July) is his primary objective. The other competition he would like to compete is at the Madrid Meeting on June 19. He would be training and competing in Europe until the Olympics and there is a possibility he might fly directly to Tokyo.

Neeraj's team, including his coach Bertonietz Klaus, found France a possible destination for training even during a 10-day quarantine before heading out to Europe. If he could have flown to France last week, he was looking to start his European competitions at Brno in Czech Republic on June 13 after he finishes quarantine in Paris and then head to a meeting in Kladno before the Madrid meeting.

However, after opting for Lisbon meet, he would have to rework his logistics before finalising meets. But he is expected to compete in at least four competitions before Tokyo. With some of the top javelin throwers starting the season late, Neeraj has time to pick up pace before heading to Tokyo.



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