Federation Cup | Neeraj’s return will be the biggest highlight

    All in readiness: AFI coach Radhakrishnan Nair, centre, said he was looking forward to the javelin competition.
    | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

    World and Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra’s return to a domestic event after his historic performance in the Tokyo Games three years ago will be the biggest highlight of the National Federation athletics meet, starting at the Kalinga Stadium here on Sunday.

    Besides Asian Games gold medallist Neeraj, silver medallist and local favourite Kishore Jena will be another big attraction as fans will get a chance to see both of them in action after watching them on television during their season-opening performances in the Doha Diamond League.

    As per Athletics Federation of India (AFI) rules, the athletes who have crossed 75m will directly participate in the javelin final on Wednesday. Three will make it to the final through the qualifying round.

    India chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair looked forward to the javelin competition, which would also feature experienced throwers D.P. Manu and Shivpal Singh. He was satisfied with performances of Neeraj (second, 88.36m) and Jena (ninth, 76.31m) performances in Doha.

    “If Neeraj has done 88m in the season opener, we can expect him to do better in the Olympics. Don’t underestimate Jena, he has done two throws during warm-up and those were more than 83m. He was a little excited, maybe a little nervous also because all were leading throwers,” Nair said at the pre-competition press conference here on Saturday.

    Apart from the two Olympic qualified throwers, Asian Games gold medallist shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, long jumper Jeswin Aldrin, triple jumpers Praveen Chitravel, who came close to qualifying for the Olympics in the Indian Grand Prix in Bengaluru, Abdulla Aboobacker, and the 4x400m relay team members, including Amoj Jacob, Muhammad Ajmal, Dandi Jyothika Sri and Subha Venkatesan, will be some of the well known athletes competing here.

    Jacob, who ran the anchor leg in the Olympic qualifier in Bahamas, said he was yet to overcome jet lag but chose to participate in the event. “I’ll be running an individual 400m here to improve my world ranking,” said Jacob.

    Missing out

    However, several top names, including steeplechaser Avinash Sable, Parul Chaudhary, quarter-milers National record holder Muhammad Anas, Arokia Rajeev, Rajesh Ramesh and Noah Nirmal Tom, long jumper Ancy Sojan, 800m Asian Games medallist Harmilan Bains, will miss the event due to various reasons.

    In view of some big names failing dope tests this year ahead of the Olympics, the National Anti-Doping Agency is expected to be active during the event.

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