India’s star Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra made an impressive comeback after recovering from an elbow injury and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by throwing a throw of 87.86 meters in the Athletics Central North East meeting in South Africa. The 22-year-old Chopra was off the track for the entire season due to injury in 2019.
In October last year, he was set to make the National Championship, but the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) stopped him from getting on track, taking no risks. In a special conversation with a leading daily from Potchefstroom, Neeraj said that the decision of the Federation to rest him went in his favour.
Neeraj said, “My training had started and I wanted to test myself. Maybe I was a bit nervous and under pressure but the Federation, believing in me, asked me to take more time for rest and training. This decision of the Federation went in my favour. Now I feel completely fit and am very happy to qualify for the Olympics in my very first event.”
Neeraj, who was competing for the first time after the elbow operation, achieved the 85-meter Olympic qualification mark in his fourth attempt. Regarding the event, he said, “Yes the competition here was not so tight, but my entire focus was on myself. I just wanted to test my preparations. I landed here to compete with no one else but myself.”
Asian Games gold medalist Neeraj admitted that it was not easy for him to stay away from the field. He said, “I stayed away from the competition for about a year and a half. This time has not been easy for me. My training had already started, but there was some disappointment in not being able to compete. But I worked patiently. After the elbow operation, I have had to make a lot of changes in technique and action. I’m glad I qualified for the Olympics. Right here I will spend some time and practice with my coach and physio.”
Union Sports Minister, Kiren Rijiju applauded Neeraj’s performance and took to twitter to congratulate the star javelin thrower as he tweeted “A great come back from injury by @Neeraj_chopra1 and then qualifying for @Tokyo2020 Olympics is a great achievement! Determination, passion, and strength made it possible to throw 87.86m much beyond the qualifying benchmark of 85m. Well done Neeraj!”