Chopra disappointed at losing out opportunity to be India's flag bearer

Neeraj Chopra
Neeraj Chopra won India's maiden silver medal at the recent World Championships. Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

New Delhi: Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra has expressed his disappointment at losing out the opportunity of leading the country as flag bearer at the opening ceremony of Birmingham Commonwealth Games on Thursday after he sustained a "minor" groin strain during his historic silver medal-winning campaign at the recent World Championships.

The 24-year-old superstar was all set to defend his title in Birmingham, but pulled out of the multi-sport event after his medical team advised a month's rest after MRI scan revealed a minor injury.

... I am hurt about not being able to defend my title and missing out on another opportunity to represent the nation. I am especially disappointed about losing out on the opportunity to be Team India's flag bearer at the opening ceremony, an honour I was looking forward to having in a few day's time,” Chopra wrote on his social media handles.

“For now, I will focus on my rehabilitation and hope to be back in action very soon. I would like to thank the entire country for all the love and support I've received over the past few days, and urge you all to join me in cheering on my fellow Team India athletes in Birmingham over the coming weeks. Jai Hind.”

The development is a huge setback to the country's CWG campaign as Chopra was a strong medal contender though not a sure shot favourite for gold. Grenada's Anderson Peters, who beat Chopra for gold in the World Championships in Eugene, USA, on Sunday, is also taking part in the CWG.

Peters had won a bronze in the last Commonwealth Games in 2018 in Gold Coast where Chopra had won gold.

Chopra's injury and pulling out means that the much-anticipated clash with Peters will not happen in Birmingham.

Chopra became only the second Indian athlete to win a medal at World Championship after Anju Bobby George, who had won a bronze in long jump in 2003 in Paris.

His rehabilitation is likely to be done abroad, either in USA or Europe. A final decision on that is, however, yet to be taken.

The injury and one-month rehabilitation has also rendered Chopra's plans for the remaining part of the season uncertain. He had kept his options open about participating in the Monaco (August 10) and Lausanne (August 26) legs of the prestigious Diamond League Meetings series after the CWG.

He had earlier said that he would love to compete in the Diamond League Finals and become a champion.

This year's Diamond League Finals is scheduled for September 2 and 3 in Zurich.

According to sources close to Chopra, nothing can be said about his Diamond League participation at this juncture.

In the Stockholm leg of the Diamond League Meetings on June 30, Chopra had finished second with a best throw of 89.94m behind Peters who won the event with a massive effort of 90.31m.

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