When Uttar Pradesh’s Shivpal Singh took the flight to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, he was then the best Indian javelin thrower behind Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra.
But the level of competition in India after Chopra’s success in Japan has been such that Shivpal could not even find a spot in the Indian squad in the just concluded Hangzhou Asian Games, where Chopra went on to win the gold and Kishore Kumar Jena claimed the silver.
Both Chopra and Jena have qualified for the Paris Olympics, leaving just one more slot available for an Indian athlete to grab as every National Olympics Committee is only allowed to send a maximum of three players per discipline.
And the 28-year-old from Uttar Pradesh showed that he was getting back his rhythm when he threw the javelin to a distance of 81.96m to clinch the gold medal in the 37th National Games in Goa and staked his claim to be picked for the upcoming National Camp
“The final list of the athletes (for the camp) should be announced in the first week of November. I will get more time to practice and achieve the Paris Olympic Games qualification mark of 85.50m,” said Shivpal, whose personal best of 86.23m was achieved way back in the 2019 Doha Asian Championships.
The 2019 year was one of the best seasons for Shivpal. He also won gold at the 2019 World Military Games in Wuhan, China. However, his performance dipped at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. His best throw was 76.40m and he ranked overall 27th in the field.
He, however, knows that it will not be an easy task as the domestic competition has become increasingly challenging. “We had three Indian javelin throwers in top eight at the 2023 Budapest World Athletics. I’ve to cross 86m next season to stay in the race for my second Olympic Games.”
The Uttar Pradesh javelin thrower revealed that it was not an easy task for him to make a comeback after a suspension for a doping offence in 2021, which was later reduced to one year from the original four-year term in January this year. The National Anti-Doping Agency Appeal Panel accepted his contention that he had failed dope test due to contaminated supplements and not intentional.
Shivpal said his training was also affected as he was temporarily posted in Bhuj, Gujarat in September. “There were no facilities in Bhuj for javelin training. It was a challenging task to maintain fitness. It was like a bad dream.”