Olympic javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra's assault on 90m barrier to start with off season practice in South Africa

Athletics - Olympics: Day 15 (credit: Olympics.com)
Athletics - Olympics: Day 15 (credit: Olympics.com)

India’s Tokyo Olympic Games men’s javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra’s campaign to break the 90-meter barrier in javelin will commence with off-season practice in South Africa, an Athletics Federation of India (AFI) official said on Friday.

“The proposal has been sent to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for Neeraj’s off-season training in the South African city of Potchefstroom. We are yet to receive a green signal from SAI,” added the AFI official.

As per plans, Neeraj is expected to fly out to South Africa in the first week of December. He will return to India in February/March to compete in domestic competitions before flying out again to Europe for a training-cum-competition tour.

There have been growing concerns about Neeraj’s training in Patiala for the 2022 season as Haryana’s 23-years old Olympic champion has certain commitments to attend functions, including family, lined up in the coming days.

The national preparatory camp in Patiala started the second week of October, but Neeraj joined late due to personal reasons.

Neeraj's personal and family commitments are hindering his training: Athletics Federation of India coach

According to the coach, the demanding off-the-field routine is severely curtailing Neeraj's future plans to build up a solid foundation to assault 90m barrier in javelin in the 2022 athletics season.

The coach said the Olympic Champion himself has raised concerns about the lack of practice in Patiala due to certain commitments post-Tokyo Olympic Games. He has approached the AFI to send him to South Africa for practice, added the coach.

“Being an Olympic champion, there are lots of distractions. There are certain commitments and family functions to be attended. It can’t be avoided. The best option is to go abroad and practice,” said the coach.

Neeraj’s personal best and national record of 88.07m was recorded during a domestic meet earlier this year in Patiala. During the Tokyo Olympic Games his gold medal winning throw was 87.58m.

Neeraj has a goal to win a medal at the 2022 World Athletics Championships. He will of course compete at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Asian Games in China to defend his titles, said the national level coach.

“Neeraj is expected to compete in a highly competitive Diamond League circuit starting May. And regional competitions in Europe before heading to the USA to compete in the Oregon World Athletics Championships in July,” added the coach.

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