Star javelin throw Neeraj Chopra adds spice to domestic competition in Bhubaneswar


While the crore group of 400m runners are raring to go for the season first domestic track and field competition starting Sunday here at Bhubaneswar’s eight-lane Kalinga Stadium in Odisha, main attraction will be men’s javelin throw as Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra will compete in Bhubaneswar. It will be the first time since the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Chopra will be seen in action on the India soil.

Asian Games medalist Kishore Kumar Jena will also compete in four-day 27th National Federation Senior Athletics Competition, a Paris Olympic Games qualification event. The competition has attracted more than 700 athletes, including 180 female athletes.

Both Chopra and Jena have qualified for the Paris Olympic Games and a domestic meet in Bhubaneswar will be part of their Olympic Games preparation.

Last night at Doha Diamond League, a season opening competition, Chopra claimed second position behind Jacub Vadlejch (88.38m) of Czech Republic with a throw of 88.36m, while Jena’s best attempt was 76.31m. Jena finished ninth.

Country’s top quarter milers, after successfully booking relay berths in 4x400m relay event at the just concluded World Athletics Relay in Bahamas, will test themselves in an individual event in Bhubaneswar. “Will be running an individual 400m here in Odisha to improve my world ranking,” was Amoj Jacob’s response during media interaction on Saturday.

The 400m qualification round is scheduled for May 14. The medal round will be on May 15.

Jacob ran anchor leg in the men’s 4x400m during the second round of Paris Olympic Games qualification in Bahamas. “It was a challenging situation during the second round of Olympic Games qualification but the team was confident of making the cut for the Olympic Games,” Jacob added. “We are happy to have booked tickets for relay events to Paris.”

Apart from Jacob, Muhammad Ajmal (men), Jyothika Sri Dandi and Subha V (women) will be seen in action during the four-day competition.

Radhakrishnan Nair, chief athletics coach said, the 63rd National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships from June 27 to 30 in Panchkula, Haryana, will be the last domestic competition for the athletes to make the cut for the Paris Olympic Games. “The deadline to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games is June 30. It is mandatory for all athletes to compete in Panchkula to prove themselves,” chief athletics coach added. “There are few exceptions but the majority of aspiring athletes aiming to make the cut for the Paris Olympic Games will be in action in Panchkula.”

According to the chief athletics coach, the race walking event has been scrapped in Panchkula as the core group of race walkers who have qualified for Paris Olympic Games wanted more time to recover from the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships held on April 21 in Turkey. “Five male race walkers have achieved Paris Olympic Games qualification time, but only the top three will be selected for the Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Paris from July 26.”

Chief athletics coach was hopeful of a better and steady performance in Bhubaneswar after a series of warm up domestic competitions conducted in March and April. “Bhubaneswar will be a good platform for the athletes to further assess their performance,” he explained.

Athletes from Bangladesh and Maldives have also confirmed their entries for the National Federation Senior Athletics Competition, chief athletics coach said. The domestic meet in Bhubaneswar is sponsored by the Odisha government.