Javelin thrower Kishore Jena’s season’s best boosts form ahead of Paris Olympics

Javelin thrower Kishore Jena’s season’s best boosts form ahead of Paris Olympics

Panchkula: Javelin thrower Kishore Jena entered the Inter-State Athletics Championships with a question mark over his form and fitness barely a month ahead of the Paris Olympics. India’s best bet behind Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra threw the javelin to 80.84m — his season’s best — to allay such concerns. It was not enough for him to win gold though.

Kishore Jena of Odisha is India’s second entry after Neeraj Chopra in javelin throw at the Paris Olympics. (PTI)
Kishore Jena of Odisha is India’s second entry after Neeraj Chopra in javelin throw at the Paris Olympics. (PTI)

The depth in Indian javelin is such that two throwers finished ahead of the Asian Games silver medallist. The tall and talented Sahil Silwal sealed the gold medal with a throw of 81.81m, while Vikrant Malik came second (81.74m).

Considering how his performances had dipped this season, Jena looked relieved to have touched the 80m mark and found some momentum going into the Olympics. Jena said pain in his ankle (blocking leg) impacted his performance this season and this meet was a fitness test for him. Jena said he felt the pain during training around the time of the Federation Cup.

“I am happy that I am getting back my rhythm at the right time. It was an important event to test myself and throwing 80-plus when I have not given my 100 percent is a good indication,” he said. “I will next compete in the Paris Diamond League (July 7) and peak towards the Olympics. The pain has reduced a lot but I have to be careful.”

Asked when the pain happened, Jena said it was around the Federation Cup, but could not pinpoint when he felt it. “We stretch the blocking leg and during training I felt a jerk. That’s when I started feeling a bit of pain. AFI suggested that I should visit a doctor, so I went to Thiruvananthapuram. The doctor told me there was nothing to worry and suggested some exercises for a month. So, this is the first meet I was competing in and the signs looked good.”

Jena had a phenomenal last year, becoming the best Indian javelin thrower behind Chopra. His extraordinary rise can be gauged by the fact that he briefly led the field at the Asian Games ahead of Chopra before the Olympic and world champion strutted his power and pushed ahead to win gold. Nevertheless, his massive throw of 87.54m won him silver in Hangzhou and helped nail the Olympics qualification mark. Jena stood out with his consistency going past 80m regularly throughout the season. Even at the Budapest world championships he finished fifth with a throw of 84.77m.

However, this year Jena had competed in only two tournaments before Sunday. At the Doha Diamond League, his best effort was 76.31m while in Federation Cup on May 15, he could only muster 75.49m and finish fifth.

“You know when expectations are so high, everyone wants you to perform in every tournament. I have learnt to deal with expectations. I am feeling much better and my body responded well today so I am looking forward to coming back to my full rhythm by the Olympics.”

No Paris mark for mixed relay team

India lined up two mixed relay teams but failed to make the cut for the Paris Olympics on the last day of qualification. India A team of Muhammed Anas, Jyothika Sri Dandi, Muhammed Ajmal and Kiran Pahal did well to clock 3:12.87, a new national record, but it wasn’t enough to go past 16th placed Kenya (3:11.88secs) in the Road to Paris rankings. Kiran, who qualified in the individual 400m race with a stunning 50.92secs here, was included in the India team. Kiran is not a national camper and there were doubts whether the federation (AFI) will include her in the team given a policy of only picking national campers.

The Indian B team of T Santosh, Vithya Ramraj, Amoj Jacob and Subha Venkatesan came second at 3:14.22secs.

The women’s long jump was keenly contested with Asian Games silver medallist Ancy Sojan winning with a jump of 6.59m. Shaili Singh also cleared 6.59m, but was placed second on countback. Nayana James came third (6.42m).

In triple jump, 2022 Commonwealth Games medallist Abdulla Aboobacker captured his form with a season’s best of 17m. Praveen Chithravel gave him a good fight (16.98m) to take second spot. Both have consolidated their places inside the top-32 in the Road to Paris rankings to qualify. Abdulla is currently ranked 21 and Chithravel is 24.

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