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Murali Sreeshankar, Avinash Sable chose Asian Games over Diamond League Final, Neeraj Chopra to compete as sole Indian athlete at Oregon

In a surprising twist, Indian track and field athletes Murali Sreeshankar and Avinash Sable have opted out of the upcoming Diamond League 2023 Final, scheduled for September 16-17 in Eugene, Oregon. They’ve chosen to focus their efforts on the Asian Games instead. Consequently, the sole Indian representative at the finals will be Neeraj Chopra, who will compete in the men’s Javelin Throw.

Murali Sreeshankar, India’s prominent long jumper, had a rollercoaster year. He began by achieving remarkable success, consistently reaching podiums and setting impressive records, with a personal best of 8.41 meters. However, his fortunes took a downturn last month at the World Athletics Championships, where he failed to advance past the qualifying round with a disappointing 7.74 meters.

Nevertheless, Sreeshankar made a strong comeback by finishing fifth at the Zurich leg, securing his place as the first Indian to qualify for the Diamond League Final. Prior to this achievement, he achieved third and fifth place in the Paris and Lausanne legs of the competition.

Sreeshankar prioritizing the Asian Games

However, Sreeshankar will not see the end of his Diamond League journey, as he chose to prioritize the Asian Games. His decision was finalized on Wednesday, Sep 6.

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“I have my event on September 29th (qualification round) and October 1 (final) at the Asian Games. If I go to the US travelling some 15 hours, compete for a day and then fly back to India and then travel again to China for the Asiad, that will be too much for my body,” Sreeshankar said to The Hindu.

“Also the time difference…so I decided not to do the Diamond League Final. There is a 12-day gap between the Diamond Final and the Asian Games. That will be too hectic and the Asiad long jump competition will also be a strong one too.

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“And with all the travelling, our training will not happen properly. And my body will not recover from the jet lag,” he added.

Just like his fellow compatriot, Avinash Sable, the 3000m steeplechase national record holder, also qualified for the Diamond League Final as he placed fifth in all three legs of the event. However, he also decided to opt out of the event to focus on his preparations for the Asian Games. He announced this decision on Thursday, Sep 7.

The two dropping out of the finals were announced in an X (formerly Twitter) post by the Inspire Institute of Sports on September 7  where it reads: 

“TEN days to go! 🔥 #NeerajChopra will be India’s sole representative at the Diamond League final, scheduled to take place at Hayward Field, in Oregon.” 

The Asian Games will be held from September 23 to October 8, 2023 in Hangzhou, China.

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