Shivpal Singh makes strong case for national camp selection after National Games 2023 triumph
The javelin thrower bounced back from doping suspension and injury.
When Shivpal Singh of Uttar Pradesh made his way to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, he was the second-best Indian javelin thrower behind Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra.
However, the level of competition in India escalated after Chopra’s triumph in Japan. Shivpal couldn’t secure a spot in the Indian squad at the recently concluded Hangzhou Asian Games, where Chopra won the gold, and Kishor Kumar Jena claimed the silver.
Both Chopra and Jena have already qualified for the Paris Olympics, leaving only one more slot available for an Indian athlete. Each National Olympic Committee can send a maximum of three players per discipline.
In the 37th National Games 2023 in Goa, the 28-year-old from Uttar Pradesh demonstrated a return to form by throwing the javelin to a distance of 81.96m, winning the gold medal and making his case to be selected for the upcoming National Camp.
“The final list of athletes (for the camp) should be announced in the first week of November. I will have more time to practice and achieve the Paris Olympic Games qualification mark of 85.50m,” said Shivpal, whose personal best of 86.23m dates back to the 2019 Doha Asian Championships.
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2019 was one of Shivpal’s best seasons, and he also won gold at the 2019 World Military Games in Wuhan, China. However, his performance dipped at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, with his best throw at 76.40m, ranking him 27th overall in the field.
He acknowledges the increasing challenge of domestic competition, stating, “We had three Indian javelin throwers in the top eight at the 2023 Budapest World Athletics. I have to exceed 86m next season to stay in contention for my second Olympic Games.”
Shivpal revealed that making a comeback was not easy, especially after a suspension for a doping offense 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 argument that his failed dope test was due to contaminated supplements and not intentional.
His training was also disrupted when 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,” he added.