Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Neeraj-Jena rivalry guarantees to gentle up Indian athletics


Neeraj Chopra competes during the men’s javelin throw final at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, on Oct. 4.

Neeraj Chopra competes throughout the males’s javelin throw remaining on the nineteenth Asian Video games in Hangzhou, China, on Oct. 4.
| Photograph Credit score: AP

Kishore Kumar Jena in action during the men’s javelin throw final

Kishore Kumar Jena in motion throughout the males’s javelin throw remaining
| Photograph Credit score:
Reuters

Ancy Sojan Edappilly competing in the women’s long jump final at the 19th Asian Games.

Ancy Sojan Edappilly competing within the girls’s lengthy bounce remaining on the nineteenth Asian Video games.
| Photograph Credit score:
AP

Long jumper Shaili Singh in action.

Lengthy jumper Shaili Singh in motion.
| Photograph Credit score:
Getty Photos

As javelin thrower Kishore Kumar Jena uncorked an 86.77m in his third try on the current Asian Video games in Hangzhou, a shiver ran by the thousands and thousands who had been carefully following the motion. Maybe, Jena felt that shiver too.

Will he beat Neeraj Chopra? That was the large query on everyone’s thoughts.

Neeraj, the Olympic and World champion, was trailing Jena by greater than two metres on the midway mark within the remaining. And if he was rattled, he didn’t present it. The World No. 1 calmly produced a season-best 88.88m in his subsequent try that turned out to be the gold medal throw whereas Jena improved his private greatest to 87.54 for a glowing silver.

The 28-year-old Jena has had a magical rise. Three years in the past, he had not even crossed 70m (68.97m, 2020), the subsequent 12 months he moved to 76.41 and final 12 months his greatest was 78.05. This 12 months, although he couldn’t win the 2 home majors (fourth in Federation Cup, 76.17m; second in Inter-State Nationals, 82.87m), Jena was a remodeled man particularly within the final one month or so, ending a powerful fifth on the Budapest Worlds on August 27 (84.77m) and hitting one other excessive in Hangzhou.

Fast transformation

A farmer’s son from Kothasahi Village in Odisha’s Puri District, Jena improved his private greatest by an eye-popping 9.5m from final 12 months along with his Asiad present. That makes him the fifth-best javelin thrower within the 2023 world checklist and the No. 2 in India’s all-time checklist, behind Neeraj (89.94m).

The street to subsequent 12 months’s Paris Olympics — each Neeraj and Jena have made the entry customary — now guarantees to be dramatic. After which, there’s additionally the uncomfortable query that retains popping up. Will Jena jolt Chopra someplace on the way in which to Paris?

Nice rivalries tend to gentle up sport and if Jena maintains his magical development that may arrange an thrilling battle with Neeraj which shall be carefully watched the world over. Maybe, it should push Neeraj quicker to 90m. And with D.P. Manu and Rohit Yadav additionally promising to fling the spear far, the javelin battle must be intense.

Kerala lengthy jumper Ancy Sojan, who had been residing in Shaili Singh’s shadow for the final couple of years, additionally threw sufficient hints that her rivalry with the latter may elevate Indian athletics’ quantity within the years to return with a really spectacular 6.63m for the Asiad silver.

Jeswin Aldrin and Asiad silver medallist M. Sreeshankar, lengthy bounce’s World No. 1 and a pair of a couple of weeks in the past, the boys’s triple jumpers and the female and male quartermilers have all been elevating the profile of the game with their shut contests.

For certain, these are thrilling days.

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