Reigning Asian and Commonwealth Games javelin champion Neeraj Chopra has pulled out of the Asian Athletics Championships, scheduled to be held in Doha starting April 21, due to injury.
Chopra, who recently returned to India following a training stint in Potchefstroom, South Africa under national coach Uwe Hohn, suffered a strain on his right elbow during a throwing session on Friday. The Asian meet was supposed to be Chopra's first competitive appearance this year following an elbow surgery in February.
Deputy chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair told ESPN that though the injury doesn't look too serious, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) was unwilling to take a chance with the September World Championships in sight. "Neeraj complained of some pain and discomfort after the throwing session. He is among our brightest stars and since the injury he's sustained is on the throwing arm we saw no point in further aggravating it. We have to keep him fresh and competition-ready for crucial events ahead."
With this, Chopra becomes the biggest Indian name to pull out of the competition so far, the others being Asian Games 800m gold medallist Manjit Singh and quarter-miler Dharun Ayyasamy. This will, however, not affect either of their Olympic qualification bids since the Asian meet doesn't fall within the qualifying window for track and field events (barring race walking and marathon events) that will run between May 1, 2019 and June 29, 2020.