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Athletics

Subdued yet golden homecoming for Neeraj Chopra as Federation Cup ends

World champion Neeraj Chopra won the Javelin Throw competition with the best throw of 82.27m while D.P. Manu came second.

Subdued yet golden homecoming for Neeraj Chopra as Federation Cup ends
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Neeraj Chopra in action at the Federation Cup 2024 in Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. (PritishRaj/TheBridge)

By

Pritish Raj

Published: 15 May 2024 6:13 PM GMT

Bhubaneswar: It was not the same crowd that Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra usually gets at the other venues in the world when he competed at the Kalinga Stadium with nearly two thousand people reverbed to 'Neeraj, Neeraj' chant on Wednesday.

While Neeraj completed his homecoming with a gold medal, the duel between him and local boy Kishore Kumar Jena turned out to be a subdued one as Jena faltered and failed to cross the 80m mark.

Even Neeraj won the title with a best throw of 82.27m, his first title with an an 82m throw came in 2016 at the South Asian Games in Guwahati where he registered 82.23m to win gold.

DP Manu came second with a best throw of 82.06m and Kishore Jena finished a disappointing fifth with the best throw of 75.49m.

Neeraj's homecoming juggled a couple of things

With Neeraj's arrival on the final day, a couple of things changed in the Kalinga Stadium as the easily accessible training ground and pathways were blocked for the smooth passage of the world champion.

Even Neeraj noticed the change and said, "People wanted to come to meet me and they were being stopped. I was not feeling good. Earlier, I was meeting a lot of people as they were allowed to come and meet me."

But he quickly explained the logic behind the move and clarified," On the other hand, we (athletes) have to be in a different mindset and be serious during a competition. There is a risk factor (of injury) also if a lot of people come on the field."

Even the stands usually empty on the other three days saw close to 1800 people cheering for the Javelin Throw event. The crowd had some esteemed names like Olympic champion hurdler Anier Garcia, Olympic gold medallist M.M. Somaya, and world championship bronze medallist Anju Bobby George to name a few.

A subdued final of the Javelin Throw

Javelin Throw was touted as the star attraction of the 27th Federation Cup when Neeraj Chopra confirmed his presence last week.

However, the performance and results were disappointing with just two athletes crossing the 80m mark and 82.27m being the winning throw.

The list featured the likes of Kishore Kumar Jena and Shivpal Singh who failed to impress while DP Manu is still hovering around the 82m mark.

On a humid evening, D.P. Manu took the early lead by throwing 82.06m while Neeraj managed 82m in his first throw. Both athletes were locked in a battle for the gold and silver as Kishore Kumar Jena and Shivpal Singh faltered with 75.49m and 71.01m throws respectively.

After Manu fouled in the last throws, Neeraj discussed with his coach Klaus Bartonietz and skipped the last two attempts to clinch the gold medal.

"I felt that I could compete here, and it was nice. However, let's not talk about the throw, it was not up to it," Chopra summed up his performance in the tournament.

However, Neeraj's travel from Doha and the weather conditions also played a part in the performance.

"I came to this kind of weather after a long time. The kind of enjoyment in a competition was not there. I was feeling the conditions were not that good, so I decided to stop after the fourth throw," Neeraj said about the weather conditions.

Chopra will next compete in the Golden Spike event in Ostrava in the Czech Republic and then feature in the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland. He will play in the Paris Diamond League before the Olympics.

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