Asian Games 2023: Javelin superstar Neeraj Chopra aims to defend gold as rival Arshad Nadeem withdraws
Indian javelin hero Neeraj Chopra aims to defend his gold medal at the Asian Games 2023 with his main rival, Arshad Nadeem, withdrawing due to injury.
India's Neeraj Chopra would aim to defend his gold medal and conclude the season strongly when he takes the field on Wednesday for the highly-anticipated men's javelin throw event at the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou, China. Chopra's path to victory may have been made easier, as his closest rival and world silver medallist, Arshad Nadeem, has withdrawn from the Games due to a persistent knee injury that has been troubling him for some time.
Chopra has consistently outperformed Nadeem in all their encounters, having won all nine competitions they've been part of together. This dominance dates back to the 2016 South Asian Games, where Nadeem secured a bronze while Chopra took gold.
In the 2018 Asian Games, Nadeem finished third while Chopra claimed the top spot. Similarly, in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Nadeem placed eighth while Chopra won gold.
Their rivalry continued in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, where Nadeem finished fifth, and Chopra secured gold. In the 2022 World Championships, Nadeem again placed fifth, while Chopra won silver. The pattern persisted in the 2017 Asian Championships, where Nadeem was seventh, and Chopra clinched gold.
Despite battling a persistent groin strain since late May, Chopra achieved his dream of becoming the world champion earlier in the season. He mentioned that the injury, while not completely gone, is manageable, and he has been focusing on his performance to overcome it.
Chopra recently secured second place in the Zurich Diamond League and the Diamond League grand finale in Eugene, USA, but he remains the strong favorite as he competes at the 'Big Lotus' stadium on Wednesday.
Nadeem, on the other hand, opted out of the Asian Games to prevent further complications in his training and participation in the Paris 2024 Olympics, as a comprehensive medical examination revealed a chronic injury he has been carrying.