Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra will lead India’s campaign in the World Athletics Championships starting on August 19 in Budapest, Hungary. Announced by the Athletics Federation of India on Tuesday, the 28-member squad will also include the likes of Diamond League bronze medallist Murali Sreeshankar and current Worlds season leader Jeswin Aldrin for long jump, 100m hurdles national record holder Jyothi Yarraji and Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase).
Reigning Diamond League champion Chopra had previously won silver in the last edition in Eugene, US, in 2022. He has won two Diamond League Meetings this season – in Doha on May 5 and Lausanne on June 30.
The 25-year-old, who had missed three top competitions between the two Diamond League Meetings due to a muscle strain sustained while training, is currently training at Magglingen in Switzerland.
His season’s best is the 88.67m in Doha, the third longest throw this season behind 89.51m of Jakub Vadlajch of Czech Republic and 88.72m of Julian Weber of Germany.
Talented long jumper Shaili, who qualified through world ranking quota, will leave for Budapest this weekend, while javelin throwers D P Manu and Kishore Kumar Jena are expected to join the team next week, as reported by PTI.
India were to field four men’s javelin throwers as Chopra had qualified as wild card by virtue of being reigning Diamond League champion but Rohit Yadav pulled out after he underwent an elbow surgery on his throwing arm.
A country can send three athletes per event apart from a wild card entry. An athlete can qualify through breaching the entry standard or through world ranking quota.
For relay races, the top eight teams at the World Championships last year get automatic qualification. They will be joined by another eight from the top list – the best eight timers of the season – making up a total of 16 teams.
The mixed 4x400m relay team could not qualify for the World Championships because of its 17th-place ranking on July 30, the qualification period deadline.
Akshdeep Singh, Vikash Singh and Paramjeet Bisht qualified through entry standard in men’s 20km race walk, while Praveen Chithravel did the same in triple jump. Abdulla Aboobacker and Eldhose Paul joined Chithravel through world ranking quota.
The AFI will also not conducte fitness tests on Chithravel and Aldrin after they took part in top competitions recently. Chitravel took part in the Lausanne Diamond League leg in July while Aldrin won gold at the CITIUS Meeting in Bern, Switzerland with an impressive 8.22m performance earlier this month.
Asian record holder shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor has pulled out of the tournament in Budapest, as confirmed by the AFI to PTI.
Although Toor had won gold at the Asian Championships, clearing 20.23m in his second round throw, he did not take further part due to groin pain and has cited the ongoing recovery due to this injury as the reason for him pulling out from Budapest.
He had also missed the 2022 World Championships due to a groin strain he developed just before the event, which also forced him to skip the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
National record holder high jumper Tejaswin Shankar, 800m runner K M Chanda and 20km race walker Priyanka Goswami (also a national record holder) have also decided to skip the World Championships as they wanted to focus on the Asian Games being held from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, China.
Priyanka has been struggling since breaching the World Championships and 2024 Olympics qualifying mark with a performance of 1:28:50 during the Race Walk Nationals in June. She had clocked 1:40:39 to finish seventh on Saturday at the World University Games in Chengdu, China.
Tejaswin switched to decathlon this season, winning bronze medals in the National Inter-State Championships in June and Asian Championships in July.
He had also competed in the individual high jump event in the Asian Championships and World University Games, finishing seventh (2.10m) and sixth (2.15m) respectively.
The Indian squad for the 2023 World Athletics Championships
Women: Jyothi Yarraji (100m Hurdles), Parul Chaudhary (3000m Steeplechase), Shaili Singh (Long Jump), Annu Rani (Javelin Throw), Bhawna Jat (20km Race Walk).
Men: Neeraj Chopra, DP Manu and Kishore Kumar Jena (Javelin Throw), Krishan Kumar (800m), Ajay Kumar Saroj (1500m), Santhosh Kumar Tamilarnsan (400m Hurdles), Avinash Mukund Sable (3000m Steeplechase), Sarvesh Anil Kushare (High Jump), Jeswin Aldrin and Murali Sreeshankar (Long Jump), Praveen Chithravel, Abdulla Aboobacker and Eldhose Paul (Triple Jump), Akashdeep Singh, Vikash Singh and Paramjeet Singh (20km Race Walk), Ram Baboo (35km Race Walk), Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal, Muhammed Anas, Rajesh Ramesh, Anil Rajalingam, Mijo Chacko Kurian (Men’s 4x400m Relay).