Neeraj-Shivpal showdown the highlight

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There is a buzz of excitement as top javelin star Neeraj Chopra opens his season in Friday’s Indian Grand Prix-3 in Patiala.

And Asian silver medallist Shivpal Singh hopes to give the Asian Games champion a strong fight. Surprisingly, the two have not competed against each other in a long time.

“The 2016 Grand Prix in Delhi was the last time we competed together and Neeraj won with 79.54m and I did 79.34.

“Of course, we competed in the 2018 Asian Games but I had an elbow injury then,” Shivpal, who like Chopra has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, told The Hindu on Thursday.

So, what could one expect on the morrow, 86m…or perhaps an 87?

“May be 89m but it will all depend on how my body reacts and how the weather is. But I’m sure it will a good throw, I’m expecting a personal best,” said Shivpal. “Neeraj is doing good too, so it will be a big competition.”

That should make the javelin throw the IGP’s prime event.

But another event, the women’s 100m, which had the potential to light Patiala, will not happen with World University Games champion Dutee Chand pulling out.

And though top coaches feel that the country could qualify for the Olympics in the women’s 4x100m relay, the 100m will have just two runners, Hima Das and Amrit Kaur.

Archana, Jabir out

Archana Suseendran, who was a part of the 4x100m relay team which finished fourth in the 2019 Asian championship, is down with a hamstring problem.

M.P. Jabir, the Asian 400m hurdles bronze medallist who is likely to make it to Tokyo on the strength of his world rankings, is also down with a hamstring injury.

Quartermiler V.K. Vismaya will be another prominent name missing.

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