Neeraj Chopra strikes gold in first competition on Indian soil in three years

| | Bhubaneswar
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Neeraj Chopra strikes gold in first competition on Indian soil in three years

Thursday, 16 May 2024 | PTI | Bhubaneswar

Neeraj Chopra strikes gold in first competition on Indian soil in three years

Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal in men's javelin throw event of the Federation Cup here, his spear shimmering through the balmy Wednesday evening sky after an unusually slow start in his first competitive outing on Indian soil in three years.

Having arrived in the city on the eve of his competition after finishing second in the Doha Diamond League, the 26-year-old superstar did not set the stage ablaze and was placed second after three rounds.

Chopra, however, took the lead in the fourth round with an effort of 82.27m and did not take the last two throws (fifth and sixth) as he was leading after DP Manu, who settled for silver, had finished his final round throw.

Chopra was representing Haryana. Manu of Karnataka came second with 82.06m effort, while Uttam Balasaheb Patil of Maharashtra was third with 78.39m.

Local man and Asian Games silver medallist Kishore Jena finished fifth with a disappointing 75.49m. Jena had qualified for the Paris Olympics when he threw 87.54m for the Asian Games silver medal in Hangzhou, China last year.

Meanwhile, SS Sneha of Karnataka became the fastest woman of the meet, winning the 100m gold with a time of 11.63 seconds. Giridhrani Ravi of Tamil Nadu (11.67) and Srabani Nanda (11.76) of Odisha were second and third respectively.

Gurindervir Singh of Punjab took the 100m dash gold with a time of 10.35 seconds. Odisha's Animesh Kujur, who won 200m gold on Tuesday, was second in 10.50 while another Punjab athlete Harjit Singh was third in 10.56.

Apart from men's javelin throw, the men's triple jump was the other event which had almost all the country's top athletes but the competition never rose to great heights.

National record holder Praveen Chitravel of Tamil Nadu won gold with a below-par jump of 16.79m, while reigning Commonwealth Games champion Eldhose Paul of Kerala was second with an effort of 16.59m.

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

Since then, Chopra has won a historic gold in the Tokyo Olympics, became Diamond League champion in 2022, world champion in 2023 and defended Asian Games gold in China.

He also won three individual legs of Diamond League and claimed a silver in the 2022 World Championships.

He is, however, yet to touch the 90m mark. His personal best and national record is 89.94m.

His participation turned the tournament into a high-profile domestic competition and it was a huge morale booster for all the athletes present at the Kalinga Stadium with few of them posing for a photo with him after his event.

Chopra, whose best throw is 89.94m, which is the men's javelin national record in India, was seen having a chat with his coach after his fourth attempt, which was the best of the competition on the day.

The champion athlete, who is hoping to defend his Olympic gold during the Paris Games, returned 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.

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