Competing in Diamond League and then Nationals not good for Neeraj: Former CWG medallist Kashinath

Competing in two events (Federation Nationals and Diamond League) so close to each other puts Neeraj Chopra on a risky road ahead of Paris Olympics.

Published : May 09, 2024 19:03 IST , KOCHI - 2 MINS READ

File Photo: Neeraj Chopra to compete in Doha Diamond League and Federation Nationals.
File Photo: Neeraj Chopra to compete in Doha Diamond League and Federation Nationals. | Photo Credit: PTI

File Photo: Neeraj Chopra to compete in Doha Diamond League and Federation Nationals. | Photo Credit: PTI

‘Neeraj Chopra’s coming home! India, your golden boy’s coming home’, shouts the joyful banner on the Inspire Institute of Sport’s Instagram and X pages.

Clearly, everybody is thrilled that the Olympic champion will be competing at home after three years, in the Federation Nationals (National Federation senior athletics competition) which begin in Bhubaneswar on May 12, and that too in what promises to be a juicy duel with Kishore Kumar Jena, the No. 2 behind Neeraj in India’s all-time javelin throw list, who almost beat him to the Asian Games gold in Hangzhou last year.

World champion Neeraj will be opening his season in the Diamond League in Doha on Friday but Kashinath Naik, the country’s first Commonwealth Games javelin throw medallist (New Delhi 2010, bronze) feels that it could be risky if the World champion competes in two meets so close to each other.

“Competing in Doha and then coming here to take part in the Federation Nationals is not good for him and that too at two venues so far away... it’s not good. It will be okay if he competes in any one competition,” said Kashinath, who was a part of the team which coached Neeraj during his early years, in a chat with Sportstar on Wednesday night.

ALSO READ | Neeraj Chopra to kick off Olympic defence at Doha Diamond League 2024

“But I hear he is not taking part in Doha, only Kishore Jena is competing there.” That came as a shock.

However, Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwalla said Neeraj will be competing in Doha. “As per my knowledge, yes he is participating. I have not heard otherwise,” Sumariwalla told Sportstar on Thursday. He also confirmed that Neeraj, the current World No. 1, will be competing in the Federation Nationals too.

While the javelin competition in Doha is on the night of May 10, the qualification round at the Bhubaneswar Federation Nationals will be in the morning on May 14 with the final the next day.

Kashinath feels that Neeraj will be throwing 88m-plus in his season-opener. “And if Jena throws more than 84m, it will be good,” he said. Jena, who was fifth at last year’s Budapest World Championships, produced a personal best 87.54 while taking the Hangzhou Asian Games silver behind Neeraj. Is there a chance that he could trouble Neeraj again in the season-opener?

“I don’t think it is possible for Jena to beat Neeraj now...Neeraj has a lot of experience. Last year, he (Jena) threw 87m but after that in the National Games (in Goa) he threw only 78m,” said Kashinath. But the duel promises to set the stage on fire.

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