Neeraj Chopra to return to competition at National Open Athletics Championships

Neeraj Chopra will be returning to competition at National Open after a year. Annu Rani, returning from the Worlds, will take part but Avinash Sable is doubtful.

File Photo: Asian Games and Commonwealth Games champion Neeraj Chopra will be returning to competition at National Open after almost a year. Chopra, who had surgery for an elbow injury, had missed this April's Asian Championships and the Worlds too.   -  AP

They had plans to return home after the World Championships in Doha and for many, their tickets to their respective States had been booked too. But on their arrival in New Delhi, the top stars who were in action in Doha were under pressure to compete in the 59 National Open athletics championships which begin in Ranchi on Thursday.

“Many were not happy about it but there was a threat that those who skip the Ranchi meet would not be included in the national camp,” revealed a top coach. “So, they had no other go.”

Now, a day after the entry list was put up with many big names missing, there is a big change. Almost all the top stars will be in action at the National Open and their names are being included at the last minute.

“Yes, I'm coming and all the other 400m runners too. We did not go home, we will be coming to Ranchi straight from Delhi,” woman quartermiler V.K. Vismaya, who has improved impressively this year, told Sportstar on Tuesday evening.

Men's 400m national record holder Muhammed Anas, Noah Nirmal Tom, M.P. Jabir, female quartermilers Jisna Mathew and M.R. Poovamma will all be running in Ranchi.

Asian Games shot put champion Tajinderpal Singh Toor, Annu Rani, who broke the national record and entered the women's javelin throw final at the recent Worlds, men's long jump national record holder M. Sreeshankar and Asian womens' 1500m champion P.U. Chitra will also light up the National Open.

And the big news is that Asian Games and Commonwealth Games champion Neeraj Chopra will be returning to competition here after almost a year. Chopra, who had surgery for an elbow injury, had missed this April's Asian Championships and the Worlds too.

But Shivpal Singh, whose form suffered a strange dip at the Worlds where he could only manage 78.97m after a personal best 86.23m in April that saw him winning the Asian silver in Doha, will be missing.

“I have ankle pain, so I will not be coming to Ranchi,” said Shivpal.

Meanwhile, Asian Games champion triple jumper Arpinder Singh said he would skip the National Open as he wanted a longer break before the next season.

“I've been travelling too much this season, I need a longer off-season. I was just 12 centimetres off the World championship qualification standard with my 16.83m at the Inter-State Nationals in August, so I want to take a long break and come back stronger next season,” said Arpinder from Bengaluru.

Steeple chaser Avinash Sable, who qualified for next year's Tokyo Olympics at the Worlds where he broke his national record and finished 13, and Asian Games 1500m champion Jinson Johnson are both doubtful here.

“I have not yet decided,” said Johnson on Tuesday evening.