Neeraj Chopra, the Indian javelin thrower, has said he will consider participating in the World Championships after the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) claimed he had qualified for the event.
The Championships will be held from September 27 to October 6, 2019.
There had been confusion over whether Neeraj’s performance at the 68th All India Inter-Services Athletics Championships in Jalahalli — held in September last year — would be considered for qualification for the World Championships. Neeraj had secured a throw of 83.90m.
Now, it has emerged that the tourney fulfils the criteria to be considered for World Championships qualification. The World Championships men’s javelin throw qualification mark is 83.00m and the qualifying period is from September 7, 2018 to midnight on September 6, 2019.
‘Final selection’ yet to be made
According to an AFI source, Neeraj has qualified for the World Championships courtesy of his performance at the Inter-Services meet, although a final decision on his participation will be taken later. “Technically, Neeraj is qualified by virtue of his performance [at the Inter-Services Athletics Championships]. However, final selection rests with the selection committee of the AFI,” the source told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
The IAAF — the world athletics governing body — has listed Neeraj’s performance at the Services meet at the 91st position in the 2018 men’s javelin throw in the all athletes chart, including repetitive performances. It means that the IAAF recognises it. Under rules, all performances must be achieved during competitions organised or authorised by the IAAF, its Area Associations or its National Federations. Tourneys must be conducted in conformity with IAAF rules.
According to Services Sports Control Board secretary, dope samples had been collected by officials of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) during the meet and the AFI had also sent technical officials to oversee the event. “It may be that the AFI has the final authority to decide on whether the results will be taken for consideration of a selection or for qualification of a higher event. I cannot comment on that but I can tell you that the meet was approved by the AFI,” he said.
Neeraj had been prepared to miss the World Championships, as he had thought he hadn’t qualified for it. He is currently recuperating from a surgery on his right elbow undergone on May 2, 2019. Now that he had seemingly qualified, he has said he may change his mind. “The last date of qualification for World Championships is September 6 and so I was thinking of not taking risk and try to qualify for the event. But if I have already qualified then I can think of taking part in the World Championships since by that time I can be fit and can try for it,” Neeraj said from his training base in Karnataka — the Inspire Institute of Sports at Vijayanagar.
“I did not know that I have qualified for World Championships. I was thinking that if I have to participate I have to qualify before September 6. That would have been difficult for me and a risk also to participate in a competition and try to qualify,” he said.
“If I have already qualified for the World Championships, I can take it easy for some time without exerting myself much and I feel I can get fit by the end of September,” he added.
Neeraj, the national record holder, had won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games — with a throw of 86.47m — and Asian Games — with a throw of 88.06m — last year to emerge as a world-class javelin thrower and an Olympic medal prospect. Injuries cropped up, however, and he had to skip the Asian Championships in April, 2019, for his surgery in May.
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