Hangzhou, Oct 3 (IANS): As he walked into the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Complex stadium on the first day of the athletics competitions in the Asian Games, India's Olympic and World Champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was greeted by a wet track.
After spending time there and talking with Indian athletes who have used the track and field area, Chopra hoped that the weather would be favourable on October 4, the day he will compete in the men's javelin throw at the 19th Asian Games.
But it seems he the 25-year-old Indian star will have to compete in wet conditions in Hangzhou as after a couple of days of dry weather, the conditions became overcast and there was a slight drizzle before the start of the athletics competitions on Tuesday.
"I just hope the weather is favourable and it doesn't rain. Wet conditions are not that good for competition. But then you have to be ready for all types of challenges. I am ready to try my best even though this is the last event of the extended season," Chopra had said a couple of days ago in an interaction with the media after reaching Hangzhou,
Chopra's journey to international stardom started with his superb victory in the Asian Games in 2018 in Jakarta. Five years down the line, Chopra has already won all the big titles the sport has to offer. He is the reigning Olympic champion and World Champion, has won the Diamond League Final in 2022, and the Commonwealth Games in 2018. He has been troubled by some injuries and has competed with a persistent groin injury in 2023.
Chopra goes into Wednesday's competition as the favourite as he has the season's best of 88.77 metres at the World Championship in Budapest.
He was expected to face a tough fight from Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem, the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold who has crossed the 90m mark. Nadeem, who has a season's best of 87.82 as he finished second behind Chopra in Budapest, withdrew from the Asian Games on Tuesday because of an injury.
According to reports from Pakistan, Nadeem withdrew because of a knee injury. MRI scans done here revealed the seriousness of the injury and he withdrew from the competition, the reports said.
This puts India's Kishore Kumar Jena in the mix and should be in contention for a 1-2 with Chopra. Jena had finished a creditable fifth in the World Championship in Budapest with a throw of 84.77 metres. Japan's Dean Roderick Genki has a season's best of 83.15 and is capable of going beyond 85 metres.
It sure promises to be a good contest, weather permitting.