Shivpal Singh eyes Paris Olympics qualification after National Games gold
Battling a tough period of 18 months, Shivpal Singh found his rhythm back to win the gold medal in a tight field of Javelin Throw at the National Games.
Bambolim, Goa: Tokyo Olympian Shivpal Singh breached the 80 metres mark twice at the 37th National Games in Goa to win the gold medal in the Javelin Throw event on Friday.
Competing in a star-studded field against Asian Athletics Championships medallist DP Manu and Asian Games silver medallist Kishore Kumar Jena, Shivpal edged past everyone with his best effort of 81.17m to clinch the gold medal.
"I am delighted to cross 80m twice and despite not training continuously, I won the gold medal," Shivpal Singh told The Bridge on the sidelines of the National Games 2023.
A non-commissioned officer in the Indian Air Force, Shivpal has been missing training due to his posting at a remote Air Force station in Gujarat.
"I found myself out of practice when I arrived at Naliya Air Force Station to fulfil my duties as an officer in the Air Force. Unfortunately, there were no practice facilities available at the station for me," said Shivpal.
"I took off from my duty to participate in the National Games and have been practising in the Nehru Stadium for the past ten days," he added.
While Shivpal won the gold medal, DP Manu and Kishore Kumar Jena clinched silver and bronze medals, respectively, with their best throws of 80.48m and 78.47m.
Charting his comeback after Doping fiasco
The world came crashing for the Tokyo Olympian when he was suspended in October 2021 for failing an out-of-competition doping test after the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
He had tested positive for the banned substance Methandienone. The ban period for the 27-year-old Uttar Pradesh athlete began in October 2021 and was supposed to last until 2025.
But the athlete contested the decision, maintaining his innocence about the banned substance.
His ban was reduced from four years to one as the Appeal Panel of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) accepted his contention that a "contaminated supplement" was the reason behind his flunked dope test.
"What do I say about the past year? It was a tough year for me and as everybody knows I was innocent in the whole doping fiasco," said Shivpal about his battle with doping.
Shivpal didn't feature in any event in the year 2022 as he was provisionally suspended by NADA.
"I spent time with my family and it is something that motivated me. I think at the end of the day, we have to help ourselves in tough situations," Shivpal said.
On his return from the ban in April 2023, Shivpal produced a throw of 79.70m at the Indian Grand Prix in Bengaluru. He continued hovering around the 80m mark with another throw of 79.35m in the qualification round of the National Inter-State Championships in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.
He clinched the bronze medal in the National Inter-State with a throw of 81.96m in the finals and recorded his season best.
Targeting the Paris Olympics qualification
With less than six months left for the 2024 Paris Olympics qualification period, Shivpal has his eyes set on the qualification mark of 85.50m.
"I have crossed that mark before and after regular practice, I am confident that I can breach that mark again," said Shivpal.
Two Indian javelin throwers have already qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics as Neeraj Chopra crossed the qualification mark in August 2023 while Kishore Kumar Jena booked his berth at the Asian Games 2023.
"The competition level has increased in Javelin and I think it is good for everyone. We have athletes who have crossed the 85m mark and few are close to it," Shivpal said about the high standard of Javelin Throw in the country.
"I think with regular practice and my rhythm in place now, I will qualify for the Paris Olympics" Shivpal signed off.