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Neeraj Chopra, Kishore Jena among big names to compete at Bhubaneswar athletics meet

It will be the first time since the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that Chopra will be seen in action on Indian soil.

Neeraj ChopraBHUBANESWAR: Olympic gold medallist and world champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, local favourite Asian Games medallist Kishore Kumar Jena and the core group of 400m runners are raring to go for the season’s first domestic track and field competition, the 27th National Federation Senior Athletics Competition, which is also a Paris Olympic Games qualification event, at Kalinga Stadium here from May 12 to 15.

It will be the first time since the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that Chopra will be seen in action on Indian soil. Both Chopra and Jena have already qualified for the Paris Olympics and a domestic meet in Bhubaneswar will be part of their preparation for the sporting extravaganza.

Chopra claimed second position behind Jacub Vadlejch (88.38m) of the Czech Republic with a throw of 88.36m, while Jena’s best attempt was 76.31m on Friday night at the Doha Diamond League, the season opening competition. Jena finished ninth.

Meanwhile, the event in Bhubaneswar has attracted more than 700 athletes, including 180 female athletes. Besides, athletes from Bangladesh and Maldives have also confirmed their entries.

The country’s top quarter milers, after successfully booking Olympic berths in the 4x400m relay event at the just concluded World Athletics Relay in Bahamas, will test themselves in an individual event in the city. “Will be running an individual 400m here in Odisha to improve my world ranking,” was Amoj Jacob’s response during a media interaction on Saturday. Apart from Jacob, Muhammad Ajmal (men), Jyothika Sri Dandi and Subha V (women) will be seen in action during the four-day competition.

Talking about the event, the chief athletics coach Radhakrishnan Nair said, “Never expect any remarkable performance from the athletes in this season’s beginner event here. It will be more a platform for the elite athletes and their coaches to make an assessment of their preparation for the Paris Olympics.”

Nair further said, “The 63rd National Inter State Senior Athletics Championships from June 27 to 30 in Panchkula, Haryana, will be the last domestic competition for the athletes to make the cut for the Paris Games. The qualification deadline is June 30. It is mandatory for all athletes to compete in Panchkula to prove themselves. There are a few exceptions but the majority of aspiring athletes aiming to make the Olympic cut will be in action in Panchkula.”

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