HomeSportsAthleticsJavelin: Why is Shivpal Singh India's best bet in Neeraj Chopra's absence?
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Javelin: Why is Shivpal Singh India’s best bet in Neeraj Chopra’s absence?

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Neeraj Chopra has become a household name in India since his heroics at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Asian Games last year. The long-haired javelin thrower is the current national record holder with his 88.06 m effort he recorded in Jakarta.

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But just when the entire nation was preparing to put all their hopes of the first ever Olympic medal in athletics on Neeraj’s shoulders, his elbow gave up. The 21-year old recently had to undergo elbow surgery on his throwing right hand. Neeraj was operated at the Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai to remove bone fragments from his elbow joint.

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The Haryana-born athlete is expected to be out for at least four months, putting his participation for the IAAF World Championship in serious doubt. The competition is scheduled to be held in September and October. Neeraj had earlier missed the 2019 Asian Championship, held in Doha last month. In his absence, all the eyes will be on a 23-year old thrower – Shivpal Singh.

Shivpal: Yet another medal hopeful? 

Hailing from a family of throwers at Hingutar Garh in Varanasi district, The Shivpal Singh is definitely not the most popular name in Indian athletics. But at the 2019 Asian Championship in Doha, Shivpal moved out of Neeraj’s shadow and made a name for himself by silver medal. His medal-winning effort, a personal best 86.23 m, was the second best by an Indian with only Neeraj ahead of him with 88.06 m.

Shivpal knows what Neeraj is going through, having himself struggled with injuries frequently. In fact, while the limelight was on Neeraj at the 2018 Asian Games, Shivpal had to watch from the sidelines due to an elbow injury. Back in 2015, he faced a similar fate at the Junior World Championship having suffered yet another elbow injury.

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Shivpal was not the one to give up though. During the training camp in South Africa, Coach Uwe Hohn changed the way Shivpal trained. The German coach completely stopped him from throwing the javelin in the practice. The focus shifted to building upper-body strength in the gym. Shivapal was sceptical about Uwe Hohn’s training method in the beginning. “I kept asking, ‘coach, can I throw today’ and he kept saying no. At one point I thought I had made a mistake by even going to South Africa,” Singh once revealed.

But Uwe Hohn, the only athlete to throw a javelin 100 metres or more, with a world record of 104.80 m, had a reason behind his training methods. And Shivpal’s hard work in the gym started paying off as he managed the personal best of 82.56 m in the Federation Cup this year, followed by the latest silver medal.

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Next challenges:

There is still a mountain to climb for Shivpal as his coach believes in him to touch the magic figure of 90 metres. The famous German trio, Thomas Rohler (Olympic champion), Johannes Vetter (World champion) and Andres Hofmann are yet to enter the field this season. The fight for the medal in the Diamond League (starting from 18 May) will be a tough one.

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But then, when was it ever an easy road for the Varanasi boy? He struggled with injuries in the beginning as he was a mere spectator to Neeraj’s brilliant performances in 2018. It seems that Shipal now has the chance to do the same in the latter’s absence.

With Neeraj’s participation for the IAAF World Championship in doubt as well, India now has a new name to look up to for the medal glory!

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Chinmay Pagar
Chinmay Pagar
I might be a Mechanical Engineer on the paper, but I was a Sports enthusiast since childhood, screaming at the TV watching cricket at the age of 4. Not much excites me other than sports unless it's free pizza. I can watch literally anything remotely related to sports; Cricket, Football, Tennis, F1, Hockey, Athletics, Chess, you name it! And I love to write too, so at the time I'm not watching sports, I'm writing about it. Or eating pizzas, of course.


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