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Breakthrough javelin star Kishore Jena promises much more

Working on his technique, Kishore Jena has broken 80m mark thrice this season and is eyeing the World Championships and Asian Games.

Kishore Kumar Jena Javelin Throw

Kishore Kumar Jena (Source: AFI/Twitter)


Abhijit Nair

Updated: 27 Jun 2023 1:03 PM GMT

Up until the start of 2023, Kishore Kumar Jena's personal best effort stood at 78.05m. He was up there amongst the pool of talented young javelin throwers in India, but he was not quite among the top few.

But the Odisha lad has shown tremendous improvement six months into the new season. Jena has not only breached the 80m mark, but he has done so thrice. He is also among the only five Indians to cross the 80m mark this season.

He achieved the feat for the first time during the Indian Grand Prix 1 (IGP 1) in March to win the competition with an effort of 81.05m ahead of DP Manu, an athlete who represented India at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games last year.

Kishore Kumar Jena has since improved his best to 82.87m and finished second at the recently concluded National Inter State Athletics Championships in front of his home crowd at the Kalinga Stadium.

The now 27-year-old, who first broke into the limelight by winning the National Open Javelin Throw Competition in 2021, though maintains that his best is yet to come.

"I am not quite satisfied with my performance in the Inter States. I know I can do better. I have touched 84m in my training sessions, but I have not been able to replicate it in any competition," Jena opens up in a conversation with The Bridge.

Hailing from Brahmagiri in Odisha, Kishore Kumar Jena was born to a farmer father and a homemaker mother. His journey in sports started with volleyball and he was even recruited to the Bhubaneswar Sports Hostel, thanks to his exploits in the sport.

"Growing up it was always sports for me. I was not very good with studies, so I always knew I need to be good in sports," Jena says.

It was at this sports hostel that Kishore made a switch to javelin, on the insistence of athletics coach Nilamadev Deo.

"I switched to javelin in 2014 after joining the sports hostel. I had thrown javelin a couple of times in school, but was never serious about it until the coach there asked me to so," he recalls.

It was also at this sports hostel that Jena was first introduced to good quality sporting equipment, including spike shoes.

"I had neither seen nor knew about something called spike shoes before joining the hostel. I also had never trained or played in a proper ground," Jena grins.

If not for the constant support from his family and the hostel during his early days, Jena believes he would have been looking for some or the other minimal wage job.

"If not for sports or javelin, I would have been struggling for some kind of job back home," he asserts.

Having joined the Odisha Reliance Foundation High Performance Centre as an athlete three months ago, Jena reveals that he has been working on improving his throwing technique to level up in his career.

"I have been continuously working on improving my throwing technique over the last few months...throwing at a certain angle, the run-up and a few other things," he explains.

Having established himself as one of the foremost javelin throwers in the Indian domestic circuit, Kishore Kumar Jena hopes to make it to the upcoming 2022 Asian Games as well as the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

"I did achieve the qualification standard for the Asian Games during the Inter States, but I am not sure if I will be selected in the team with all of Neeraj Chopra, Rohit, and DP Manu in contention," he reflects.

Each National Olympic Committee (NOC) is allotted two quotas per event in athletics at the Asian Games, and with reigning champion Neeraj Chopra also in contention, Jena does not have his hopes high to compete at the continental event.

"I am also in contention to qualify for the World Championships via the ranking route, but I need to earn a few more points," Jena soon adds.

How does he plan on gaining those points and improving his ranking before the qualification period ends next month?

"I am figuring out ways to compete in a few events abroad," he says.

"I still do not know which events I will be granted entries in, but hopefully I will be able to get a couple of competitions to improve my rankings," he adds.

Kishore Kumar Jena is currently ranked 30th by in the Road to Budapest World Championships Rankings, and needs a few more ranking points to safely secure his berth at the global event.

With Neeraj Chopra being a wild card entry to the World Championships as the 2022 Diamond League champion, India can send three more javelin throwers to the global event, putting Jena firmly in mix.

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