On January 29, India waited with its hands folded in prayers. Star athlete Neeraj Chopra was returning from injury after a long layoff and the entire sports fraternity expected him to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The man responded in style. He qualified for the quadrennial event with a throw of 87.86 m at the ACNE League meeting in Potchefstroom, South Africa, making an impressive return to the circuit.


Chopra, who missed the entire 2019 season recuperating, qualified after hitting over the 85m mark in his fourth attempt. He also secured the top place at the event. With this, he has managed to instill hope in 130 billion Indians who still await their first athletic gold and are pinning their hopes on the 22-year-old. 


Neeraj had missed the IAAF World Championships, the Diamond League and the Asian Championships in 2019 recovering from an injury. He last participated in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games where he won the gold medal and set the national record of 88.06 m.



India’s hope for gold in javelin throw rides solely on Neeraj, the current Commonwealth Games and Asian Games champion. He’s easily the best track-and-field athlete India possesses at the moment. After undergoing surgery in his right elbow in May 2019, the 22-year-old from Panipat has returned to training and is gradually getting to his best.


Looking at his performance in South Africa, it is safe to say that India and Neeraj have a strong chance to win a medal at the event. He’s a junior world champion and after coming from a long sabbatical, he’d be eager to prove his doubters wrong. 



“I can certainly feel the change. It’s been a happy comeback. I am now focusing on quality competitions which will help me prepare well for Tokyo, like competing in Europe and Diamond Leagues,” said he, after announcing his comeback with another brilliant throw. 


Only 5 athletes competed in the competition in South Africa, but officials suggested that it was an official event. It was a huge sigh of relief for Chopra, who admitted that he was a little worried about qualifying for the Olympics. 


“I was getting a little worried about qualifying,” admits Chopra. “The last year had gone without me taking part in a single competition and there were just a few months left to go for qualification. There’s not much time for the Olympics. So it feels great that I have been able to qualify in time,” he says.


Now that he’s back and firing, it is safe to say that the man will have a major chance of winning a medal for the tri-color at Tokyo. With Neeraj, who knows, maybe he can scale the center of the podium?

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