Athletics fans gutted over sad news ahead of Commonwealth Games

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Neeraj Chopra, Anderson Peters and Jakub Vadlejch, pictured here with their medals at the world athletics championships.
Neeraj Chopra, Anderson Peters and Jakub Vadlejch pose with their medals at the world athletics championships. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images for World Athletics)

The Commonwealth Games have been rocked by another high-profile withdrawal after Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra made the sad call to pull out.

India's Olympic association announced on Tuesday that Chopra will not defend his Commonwealth Games javelin title in Birmingham due to injury.

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The 24-year-old produced a throw of 87.58 metres in Tokyo last year to become the first Indian athlete to win an individual athletics gold medal at the Olympic Games.

Chopra, who hails from the northern Indian state of Haryana, won gold medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018 and had been chosen as India's flag-bearer for Thursday's opening ceremony in Birmingham.

However he has since made the heartbreaking call to withdraw from the Games after complaining of 'discomfort' in his thigh at last week's world championships in the United States.

"Chopra had called me earlier today from the US to convey his inability to take part in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games owing to fitness concerns," Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajeev Mehta said in a statement.

"(He) had an MRI scan done on Monday and, based on it, he has been advised a month's rest by his medical team."

Chopra sent his javelin soaring to a distance of 88.13m at the world championships in Eugene, but had to settle for second place behind Grenada's Anderson Peters.

Nevertheless, it still marked India's first-ever silver medal at a world championships and only the country's second overall after Anju Bobby George took bronze in women's long jump in 2003.

Neeraj Chopra, pictured here in action at the world athletics championships in Oregon.
Neeraj Chopra in action at the world athletics championships in Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Speaking after the event in Oregon, Chopra was quoted as saying by the NDTV news network: "After the fourth throw I did feel a bit of discomfort in my thigh, I wasn't able to put in that much effort.

"That was on my mind, but I just wanted to make sure I can throw. So I strapped my thigh."

Chopra threw farther in Oregon than he did in Tokyo and declared himself "satisfied" with the silver medal.

"The hunger for gold will continue in me," he said.

"But I have to believe we cannot get gold each time."

The injury means Chopra will no longer be the flag-bearer for the 200-plus Indian contingent in Birmingham.

"Neeraj has said that since he is not 100 percent fit to compete at the Commonwealth Games, he would not be the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent at the athletes' parade in the opening ceremony," Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwalla said.

Neeraj Chopra, pictured here after becoming India's first individual Olympic gold medallist at the Tokyo Games.
Neeraj Chopra became India's first individual Olympic gold medallist at the Tokyo Games. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Athletics fans left gutted for Neeraj Chopra

Chopra had been in top form so far this season, breaking his own national record at the Diamond League event in Stockholm in June with a personal best throw of 89.94m.

India, the Commonwealth's most populous country, is not generally known as a sporting powerhouse outside of cricket.

However the nation has regularly performed well at the Games.

They came third in the overall medal tally behind Australia and England at the Gold Coast Games in 2018 and finished in the top five at the previous four.

Chopra's withdrawal follows that of Australian runners Liz Clay and Riley Day earlier this week. Clay broke her foot after falling in the hurdles heats in Eugene, while Day has been battling a knee injury for the majority of the year.

with agencies

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