Neeraj Chopra doubtful for World Championships after elbow surgery

Neeraj Chopra is still looking for his first senior world medal. ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has undergone an elbow surgery, raising doubts over his participation in the World Championships to be held in Doha from September 28th. It has been learnt that his recovery is likely to take three to four months. It is also certain that the Haryana athlete will miss a major part of the international season, including the prestigious Diamond League series.

This in turn will cast a shadow over his qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Athletes can qualify for the 2020 Games primarily on the basis of world rankings -- based on the average of the best five results over the qualifying period weighted by the importance of the meet. They can also qualify by achieving a minimum standard (85m in the men's javelin throw event). The marks considered for ranking or achieving the minimum standard need to have been recorded between 1 May 2019 and 29 June 2020.

While last months' Asian Championships were also to be considered for rankings or qualifying standards, Chopra had pulled out of that tournament owing to his injury. Chopra hasn't competed in a single competition since winning a gold medal at the Inter Services Championships in September last year.

The 21-year old was successfully operated on by celebrated orthopaedic surgeon Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai on Thursday evening.

The arthroscopic surgery on his throwing right hand was done to remove bone fragments from his elbow joint. It lasted around two hours.

Chopra is likely to be discharged from the hospital by Saturday.

His age should be a factor in aiding recovery. "Neeraj's hand will remain in a sling for seven to 10 days," a source close to the athlete told PTI. "After that his recovery and then rehabilitation will begin. According to doctors, it will take at least three months for him to return to a position that will allow him start throwing again. The few bone fragments on his elbow were locking his joints and that was why he was feeling the pain. These fragments were successfully removed through the arthroscopic surgery."

Manisha Malhotra, head of sports excellence at JSW Sports, said, "Neeraj went through consultations with doctors in India and his scans were sent to multiple international experts as well, who all suggested that the elbow arthroscopy was the best alternative. After considering all options and feedback, Neeraj decided to stay in India and undergo the procedure under Dr Pardiwala."

The national record holder (88.06m) developed pain in his elbow while practising at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala in April. Experts, coaches and officials have been saying Chopra's low-arm throwing position could put stress on his elbow. His current coach Uwe Honn wants to change it.

Chopra shot to fame by winning the javelin gold at the 2016 IAAF World U-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He went on to win gold medals at the 2016 South Asian Games, the 2017 Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar, and last year's Commonwealth and Asian Games.

(With inputs from PTI)