New Delhi, Jul 26, 2022, IANS
The strong Indian contingent for the Commonwealth Games suffered a massive setback as ace javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, fresh from his silver medal-winning performance at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene (US), has been ruled from the quadrennial showpiece due to a groin injury.
Speaking to IANS, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary-general Rajiv Mehta confirmed Chopra's injury.
"Neeraj Chopra had been advised rest for a month by doctors after an MRI showed an injury in his groin. He had complained of pain in the groin region after his competition at the World Championships, following which he went for an MRI, which revealed a minor tear," said Mehta.
"It is a huge loss for the Indian contingent as Chopra was the defending Commonwealth Games champion and would have won gold had he competed," added Mehta.
Chopra, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medallist, had recently ended India's 19-year-long wait for a medal at the World Athletics Championships by winning silver with his best throw of 88.13 metres. This was India's second medal ever at the World Championships and the first podium finish since Anju Bobby George won a bronze medal in long jump at Paris in 2003.
However, Chopra had complained after the historic achievement that he felt something in his groin during competition which did not make him feel good.
"In the first three throws, I did not feel good. My warm-up was not good. I felt something in my groin during the throw but I think it is OK," the Indian ace had said.
The shattering news of his injury would have rattled the Indian contingent in Birmingham. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was in the final phase of deciding the flag-bearer for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on July 28, with Chopra the front-runner along with ace shuttler and two-time Olympic Games medal winner PV Sindhu.
But with Chopra out of the Games, Sindhu should be the automatic choice to do the honours.
Chopra had been sublime form of late, winning silver medals at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland and the Diamond League competition in Stockholm, Sweden. He came within six centimetres of the magical 90-metre mark with a throw of 89.94 to win silver in Stockholm, and show he was in the form of his life to retain gold at the Commonwealth Games.
A recent social media post from Chopra that he always goes for gold was enough indication that he was motivated for a top podium finish in Birmingham.
"I don't fight to win, I fight for excellence, I fight to get better. Gold is the goal, so I put in the hard work consistently and focus on getting better," Chopra had said recently.