The Uwe effect in Shivpal’s block

Hohn, the national javelin throw coach, was left fuming about the technique of Shivpal Singh and Annu Rani, both Asian silver medallists.

Indian javelin thrower Shivpal Singh with coach Uwe Hohn in Amritsar.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A few days ago, one felt there were cracks appearing in the country’s exciting javelin world after a chat with German Uwe Hohn.

Hohn, the national javelin throw coach, was left fuming about the technique of Shivpal Singh and Annu Rani, both Asian silver medallists.

Shivpal’s form was slipping around that time, from a personal best 86.23m at the Doha Asians in April to the season’s low of 76.90 in Poland towards the end of June.

“No left ‘block’ and Shivpal does not listen (when I try) to change this!” Hohn, the man with the longest throw in history, told Sportstar from Spala, Poland. “Annu also does not listen, that is why she has been throwing only 60m in the last few competitions.”

Blocking is the point during which the thrower is in his delivery stance and the non-throwing side of the body comes to a halt and is locked in place. The block must work efficiently for a good throw.

Worry over Annu Rani

Things appear to have improved now, at least in Shivpal’s case.

“Shivpal is doing okay but he has little problems with his right knee. Annu was in good shape but trying way too hard and the bad thing is, she does not listen or follow our advice. And it’s definitely not a language problem,” said Hohn on Friday night.

Shivpal, currently the country’s leading javelin thrower with Asian Games and Commomwealth Games champion Neeraj Chopra off the circuit recovering from the surgery for his elbow injury, will be in action in the Motonet Grand Prix in Joensuu, Finland, on Wednesday. And Hohn will be watching the 24-year-old closely.

Has he sorted out Shivpal’s block? Is he comfortable with the change in technique?

“We will see during the competition, in training it is much better at the moment,” said Hohn.

So, can we expect something like 82m on Wednesday? “The result will not be the main target but technique. He should be able to throw that but we have already started our preparation for Doha and this competition will be direct out of training,” said Hohn, a former world record holder.

He explained that Shivpal’s mediocre throws in the last two meets were due to “fatigue and muscle imbalance”.

While most of the Indian campers abroad appear to be competing in low-quality meets, the javelin throwers have been an exception.

In Finland, Shivpal will be up against Estonia’s Magnus Kirt, the only man to throw over 90m this year, and Finland’s 2012 London Olympics silver medallist Antti Ruuskanen.

Shivpal has already qualified for this September’s Doha World championships and he appears to be in a hurry to make the cut for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“I thought I’d go for 85m in Finland but our coach has told me that it should not be the focus now. He says something like 82 or 83m will be good.

“The block is a bit better now and my left hand is more close, earlier it was straight.”

One just hopes Shivpal emerges stronger and consistent with the change.

Tough road for Neeraj Chopra

He may have been the World No. 4 and may have won gold at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games but life will not be easy for Neeraj Chopra as he works his way back to the world circuit after the recent elbow surgery.

“It will be a difficult process to change his way of throwing and he needs a lot of trust and patience to do so,” said Hohn.

Neeraj Chopra recently underwent an elbow surgery.   -  AP

 

“Neeraj is very talented and could throw very far but for that he has to be healthy! He is throwing too often with the upper body in front. If that happens, then his arm is too deep and there is big stress on shoulder and elbow. He started this way of throwing in 2017 and his history of shoulder injury started then.”

Chopra, according to Deputy National Coach Radhakrishnan Nair, has resumed training but the big question is whether he will be ready for this September’s World championships.

If he is at his best, Chopra has the potential to win India’s first-ever Olympic medal in athletics and country will be keen to see him back in action as soon as possible.