Shivpal Singh, with his throw of 86.23m, is presently ranked No.2 in the world. He happens to be just behind Chinese Taipei’s Chao-Tsun Cheng, who got the gold at the Asian Athletics Championships by recording a distance of 86.72 metres.
But before the Indian fans get too ahead of themselves, it will be pertinent to mention that the big boys are yet to begin their season. The celebrated German trio Thomas Rohler (Olympic champion), Johannes Vetter (World champion) and Andres Hofmann are only warming up for the season. The Asians throwers, on the other hand, have started the outdoor season early. More so this year since the Asian Championship in Doha had been rescheduled from May to April.
The rankings are expected to change once the best take field at the Shanghai Diamond League on May 18. The starting list will include the Germans stars. All three have thrown over 90 metres. Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch, whose personal best stands at 89.73m, will also be in the fray.
Shivpal, who has battled injuries in the past, will have to throw over the 88 metre mark (the national record stands at 88.06m in Neeraj Chopra’s name) to have a realistic chance of finishing in the top-6 at the World championships, which means he will have to improve by at least two more meters before the end of September.
Chopra has been competing against the Germans for the past couple of years and the closest he got to a medal on the world stage was a fourth place at last August’s Diamond League in Zurich. On that occasion, Vetter had pulled out and Chopra (85.73 metres) was in third place till the final round, before a below-par Rohler pipped him to bronze with 85.76 metres.
The Zurich meet only proved that to nick a medal against the top Germans, one needs to be at their best and push themselves to the limit at all times.
Post the Shanghai Diamond League, a clearer picture will emerge of the true form of the top throwers in the world. For Shivpal, who is likely to be India’s best hope at the World Championships in the absence of an injured Chopra, the road is only going to get tougher as the season progresses.