Hyderabad: India has never been a strong contender in the field of athletics at the world’s biggest stage. With not a single medal yet in the field event, Indian athletes were considered mere contestants.
However, for the first time in over 100-years of history at Olympics, India hopes to win the first medal through the young gun Neerja Chopra in javelin. He holds a world record in the junior category and has a burden of a billion’s hopes on his shoulders.
Chopra has recently set a national record with a throw of 88.07 metres during the Grand Prix event in Patiala to be placed among top 4 in the world this season. However, Germany’s Johannes Vetter, with a record throw of 96.29 metres, is the overwhelming favourite for the gold. With Vetter in contention, the fight would be for the remaining two places.
Poland’s Marcin Krukowski and Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott are the next two best athletes with a throw of 89.55m and 89.12m respectively. Chopra’s best was in Indian Grand Prix where he threw the spear to 88.78 metres. He followed it up with 86.07 metres at the Kuortane Games in Finland. He either needs to come up with his best performance to stand on a podium.
The youngster, who had to withdraw from many tournaments this year owing to Covid-19, said he is confident on his preparations ahead of the Games and said the past doesn’t matter but whoever does the best on the day will come out on top.
Meanwhile, Shivpal Singh has also qualified in the javelin throw but he is ranked way below at 28th. In the women’s section, Annu Rani is 12th in the list of best performers of the season with a throw of 63.24m. Poland’s Maria Andrejcxyk leads the charts with a 71.40m show.
In shot put, Tajinderpal Singh Toor made the cut at last-minute during the Indian Grand Prix 4 with another national record mark of 21.49 metres. Long jumper M Sreeshankar had made it to the Olympics with a national record jump of 8.26m during the Federation Cup in March.
In discus throw, Kamalpreet Kaur made it to the Olympics during the Federation Cup in March with a performance of 65.06m and then bettered her own national record with a throw of 66.59m during the subsequent Indian Grand Prix 4 on June 21. Veteran Seema Punia was the last to bag an automatic qualification spot for the Olympics with a throw of 63.72m on the final day of National Inter-State Championships on Tuesday. Barring Chopra, these athletes would be aiming to better their earlier performances.
Men’s Javelin Throw – Neeraj Chopra, Shivpal Singh
Men’s Long Jump – Murali Sreeshankar
Men’s Shot Put – Tajindarpal Singh Toor
Women’s Discus Throw – Kamalpreet Kaur, Seema Punia
Women’s Javelin Throw- Annu Rani
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