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Neeraj, Jena to compete directly in Fed Cup finals

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BHUBANESWAR, May 13: Star Indian javelin throwers Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Jena have been given direct entry into the Federation Cup finals here on May 15, having already bettered the minimum qualification mark of 75m multiple times in their careers.
Olympic and world champion Chopra is coming off a fairly good outing at the Doha Diamond League last week where he finished second with a throw of 88.38m. Asian Games silver-winner Jena’s Diamond League debut, however, ended in disappointment as he was eliminated after three rounds with 76.31m being his best.DP Manu, who finished sixth in the 2023 World Championships and who is looking to qualify for the upcoming Paris Olympics by breaching the 85.50m mark, will also compete directly in the finals.
“All those who have crossed 75m will not compete in the qualifying round on Tuesday. There are nine of them from among those who had made entries, including Neeraj and Jena. They will directly compete in the final on Wednesday,” Indian athletics head coach Radhakrishnan Nair said, quoting the Athletics Federation of India’s qualification rules.
“The remaining who have below 75m mark will compete in the qualifying round and the top three will join the nine above-75m throwers in the final.” The AFI is quite looking forward to 26-year-old Chopra’s first home competitive outing in three years.
“The AFI is not at all surprised at Neeraj taking part in the Federation Cup. His participation in domestic event is no doubt a very good thing for Indian athletics,” a top official of the AFI said.
It is learnt that the AFI wanted Chopra to compete in a domestic event after he won gold in Tokyo Olympics and before the Paris Games.
He did not take part in any domestic event in 2022 and 2023 as he was training or competing abroad. His last domestic event was the Federation Cup in March 2021.
It is learnt that Chopra has reached India from Doha but will land here only on Tuesday.
Asian Games medallist Jena is arriving here later on Monday.
Nair played down the injury to men’s 4x400m relay squad member Rajesh Ramesh who pulled out midway during the second leg of the first round qualifying heat in Bahamas earlier this month.
Ramesh was replaced by Arokia Rajiv, who was also not fully fit, in the second round of the Olympic qualifying heat and the Indian team booked a Paris ticket.
A total of 19 track and field athletes have qualified for Paris and Nair said the team will train in Spala in Poland for four weeks before travelling to Paris for the Olympics. Track and field events starting on August 1.
Indian athletes have trained in Spala many times in the past.Nair also said the AFI is still hopeful of the mixed 4x400m relay team’s Paris qualification despite its failure in Bahamas during the World Relays. Only two slots remain.(PTI)

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