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Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra to compete before home fans after three years

The 26-year-old Chopra will be competing in a domestic event for the first time in three years, after featuring in the 2021 edition of the same event.
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 14:25 IST
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 14:25 IST

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Bhubaneswar: Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra's presence will turn the National Federation Cup, starting Sunday, into a high-profile domestic competition though several top athletes have decided to skip the four-day Senior Championships.

The 26-year-old Chopra will be competing in a domestic event for the first time in three years, after featuring in the 2021 edition of the same event.

It will also be the first time that Chopra will compete in India after winning a historic gold in Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Chopra last took part in a domestic competition at the same Federation Cup in March 2021, when he won a gold with a throw of 87.80m.

Since then, he has mostly been training and competing abroad, accumulating silverwares and titles.

He became a world champion, won three individual Diamond League titles, one DL champion's trophy and defended his Asian Games gold in China.

The superstar Indian, who is hoping to defend his Olympic gold during the Paris Games, is heading to India from Doha where he began his season with a second-place finish in the Diamond League with an impressive final round throw of 88.36m on Friday.

"For me more important is my sport. It's good for my profile if I play in India," Chopra said.

"Before Tokyo (Olympics), I always trained in India but right now I just want to focus on my game. I will train in India later," he added.

Some of the top athletes, including the likes of shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, would also be looking to either breach the Paris Olympics qualifying mark or gain valuable ranking points. Asian Games silver medallist Kishore Jena, whose Diamond League debut in Doha on Friday ended in disappointment with a ninth-place finish, will also compete in the event, and so as DP Manu, who had finished sixth in the 2023 World Championships.

All eyes at the Kalinga Stadium will be on the javelin throw event. As per the schedule, the men's javelin qualifying round will be held on May 14 and the final will take place on May 15.

Asian Games medallists Avinash Sable (men's 3000m steeplechase), Jyothi Yarraji (women's 100m hurdles), Parul Chaudhary (women's 3000m steeplechase), Annu Rani (women's javelin throw) and Harmilan Bains (women's 800m and 1500m) are among top athletes who are skipping the event as they are training abroad.

Also missing from the lost are national record holder 100m sprinter Manikanta Hoblidhar and Amlan Borgohain (200m) as they are training and competing abroad.

In the men's 400m, Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal and Rajesh Ramesh, who were part of the Indian 4x400m squad that qualified for the Paris Olympics during the World Relays in Bahamas recently, have entered the fray. The participation of Ramesh, though, could be doubtful after he sustained muscle cramps in Bahamas.

Asian record holder shot putter Toor would be looking to breach the Olympic qualifying mark of 21.50m after he began his outdoor season with 19.82m effort at the National Throws meet.

Jeswin Ardrin, who has been inconsistent in the past one year, will be the favourite to win the men's long jump gold in the absence of injured Murali Sreeshankar. Aditya Kumar Singh, the latest entrant in the 8m club has also entered his name.

The men's triple jump could see the battle of supremacy between national record holder Praveen Chitravel and Abdulla Aboobacker while reigning Commonwealth Games champion Eldhose Paul, who won title recently in a German event, opted out.

In the women’s section, the long jump pit could see another duel between Nayana James and Shaili Singh after the India Open Jumps Competition in March. Ancy Sojan is missing from action.

The quarter-mile race will see M R Poovamma, Jyothika Sri Dandi, Subha Venkatesan ad Vithya Ramraj -- members of India's 4x400m relay squad that booked a Paris Games berth taking part.

Hima Das, who returned to action at the Indian Grand Prix 1 last month after getting clearance for whereabouts failure, is not taking part in the event. She pulled out midway in the 200m race at that event in Bengaluru.

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Published 11 May 2024, 14:25 IST

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