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Dutee Chand and Avinash Sable Will Begin India's Athletics Campaign; Neeraj Chopra Will Compete On August 4 And 7

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Thursday, 29th July 2021

India will begin their Olympic athletics campaign on Friday, hoping to make amends for their disappointing performances in the previous edition, pinning their slim medal hopes on the sprightly but under-prepared star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra. The 23-year-old Chopra, who is currently ranked fourth in the world, is the brightest prospect for an Olympic medal, despite the fact that he has had little time to prepare, having com. The Athletics Federation of India had planned pre-Games training and competition tours abroad for the athletes, but they had to be cancelled due to global travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Only Chopra, one of the Olympic team's 26 members, was able to train and compete in Europe in early June before arriving in Tokyo on Tuesday. He only competed in three international events prior to the Olympics, but the first two were minor ones with local athletes.

Chopra finished third with a throw of 86.79m at the Kuortane Games in Finland this year, while Tokyo Olympics gold medal favourite Johannes Vetter (93.59m) of Germany won the event.

Chopra, who began the season by breaking his own national record with an 88.07m throw at the Indian Grand Prix in March, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of high-level international competition in the run-up to the Olympics.

Vetter (personal best 97.76m, season best 96.29m) has been unbeatable this season, throwing 90m or more in seven events between April and June. If he maintains his current form, Vetter appears to be a lock for his first Olympic gold medal.

Other medal contenders for Chopra include Poland's Marcin Krukowski (PB & SB 89.55m), Trinidad & Tobago's Keshorn Walcott (PB 90.16m, SB 89.12m), and Latvia's Gatis Cakss (PB 90.16m, SB 89.12m) (PB & SB 87.57m).

Chopra, who has been training with bio mechanics expert Klaus Klaus Bartonietz in Uppsala, Sweden, will make his Olympic debut during the qualifying round on August 4 before the finals three days later. The field was reduced after Germany's reigning Olympic champion, Thomas Rohler, withdrew due to a back injury. World champion Anderson Peters, on the other hand, has struggled this season. Magnus Kirt of Estonia, who won silver at the World Championships, has also withdrawn due to a leg injury.

Other than Chopra, none have a realistic chance of winning a medal, but some will try to qualify for the final round. Only Lalita Babar made it to the finals of the women's 3000m steeple chase in Rio five years ago.

Discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur, who is ranked sixth in the world with a personal best of 66.59m, could be aiming for a top-5 finish, if not a medal, if she can maintain her strong form that has helped her break the national record twice recently.

Tajinder Singh Toor, the Asian Games champion shot putter who broke his own national record at IGP 4 in June with a throw of 21.49m, can also make the final, though the event will be extremely competitive based on what happened at the 2019 World Championships.

Shivpal Singh (javelin throw), Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase), and M Sreeshankar (long jump) can also make it to the final round if they improve on their personal best.

Sreeshankar's form has dipped since his national record-breaking 8.26m jump during the Federation Cup in March, and the AFI was considering dropping him, along with 20km race walker K T Irfan, after he cleared only 7.48m in the July 21 'fitness trial.'

They were retained, but AFI president Adille Sumariwalla warned that action would be taken against anyone who did not perform well here.

Sable will begin proceedings on Friday, followed by Dutee Chand (100m) and M P Jabir (400m hurdles) in their respective heats in the morning session.

In the evening, the mixed 4x400m relay team will compete for a spot in the final.

Dutee, the national record holder who qualified for the Olympics based on world rankings, has admitted to the gap between her timing and that of the medal contenders, and she plans to advance to the semifinals by bettering his personal best.


The News Talkie Bureau




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