AFP/ New Delhi
India’s Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra was ruled out of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with injury on Tuesday, two days ahead of the opening ceremony.
Chopra, 24, picked up the injury during the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, where he won silver at the weekend. The Indian Olympic Association did not say what the injury was but after coming second behind Grenada’s Anderson Peters he complained about “discomfort” in his thigh.
Chopra was the reigning champion at the Commonwealth Games, which start on Thursday.
“Chopra had called me earlier today from the US to convey his inability to take part in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games owing to fitness concerns,” Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajeev Mehta said in a statement.
“(He) had an MRI scan done on Monday and, based on it, he has been advised a month’s rest by his medical team.”
Chopra made history for his country when he won the javelin at last summer’s Tokyo Games, becoming India’s first Olympic athletics gold medallist.
Speaking after the World Championships in Oregon, Chopra was quoted as saying by the NDTV news network: “After the fourth throw I did feel a bit of discomfort in my thigh, I wasn’t able to put in that much effort.
“That was on my mind, but I just wanted to make sure I can throw. So I strapped my thigh.”
‘Hunger for gold’
Chopra threw farther in Oregon than he did in Tokyo and declared himself “satisfied” with the silver medal, local media reports said.
“The hunger for gold will continue in me,” he said. “But I have to believe we cannot get gold each time.”
Chopra’s injury means that he will no longer be the flag-bearer for the over 200-strong Indian contingent in Birmingham, Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwalla said.
“Neeraj has said that since he is not 100 percent fit to compete at the Commonwealth Games, he would not be the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent at the athletes’ parade in the opening ceremony,” Sumariwalla said in a statement.
Chopra, who won gold at the last edition of the Games at the Gold Coast, in 2018, had been in top form this season until the injury struck.
He broke his own national record at the Diamond League in Stockholm in June as he registered a personal best throw of 89.94m. India, the Commonwealth’s most populous country, is not generally known as a sporting powerhouse – except for cricket – but it has regularly performed well at the Games.
Its athletes came third in the medals table behind hosts Australia, and England, at the Gold Coast and were in the top five at the previous four.