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Asian Games 2023: AFI vice chief accuses Chinese officials of cheating as Neeraj Chopra’s first throw goes unmeasured

With this, Chopra defended his javelin thrower title at the Asian games and also the number-one spot in the world.

However, a huge controversy erupted during the Olympic champion’s javelin throw event when his first attempt was not measured. This prompted legendary athlete Anju Bobby George to accuse the Chinese officials of “trying to cheat” and “deliberately targeting the Indians”.

As per reports, Chopra had comfortably cleared the 85m mark but to his surprise, the effort was not recorded by the officials and he was not given any reason for that.

“I don’t know why they did not measure my first throw. Just after me, the second and third competitors had their throws and their distance were measured. I kept on asking what happened to my first throw,” Chopra told reporters after winning the gold medal on his fourth attempt.

ALSO READ Asian Games 2023: Neeraj Chopra wins the gold medal, netizens call him ‘legend’

“I was puzzled and confused, it has never happened in any competition I have competed in till now. I think they lost my landing mark and they kept on looking for it.”

Apart from this, Kishore Jena, who joined Chopra on the podium with his silver-winning effort, also had his second throw invalidated for crossing the line but the decision was later reversed.

Senior vice president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), Anju Bobby George, accused the officials of deliberately targeting the Indians.

“They are trying to cheat us and trying to disturb our athletes. Neeraj’s first throw was very good and it was a kind of disturbance. We called Neeraj to protest there itself. Jena’s throw was also called foul when he was one foot behind the line,” the legendary long jumper alleged.

She even alleged that winning in China is difficult as their officials are always up for some “mischief” and disturb the athletes.

“Winning in China is very difficult so though we are the best runners, throwers, jumper they will do all such mischief and disturb our athletes.”

On being asked if the officials gave any reason for not measuring his first throw, Chopra said, “One of the officials said the second athlete after me had taken his throw quickly. It was a bizarre situation.”

“I am told that it was a very good throw, probably 87-88m. Mentally you feel relieved if your first throw is very good. Later they told me I would be given another throw for the first attempt.”

A perfect gentleman he is, Chopra agreed to it.

“I did not have any other means, I thought there was no point arguing for long. I also thought it was affecting the competition of other competitors. The other competitors were waiting and I need to respect them also. The wind was blowing and everybody was feeling cold. So, I thought I would take the throw later.

“Rule says only six throws, but for the first time I got seven throws in a competition,” he said with a laugh.

Chopra’s next attempt measured 82.38m. Jena, the second Indian in the fray, was leading at the halfway mark of three throws. But Chopra came up with a season’s best throw of 88.8m in his fourth attempt to win the gold.

Jena won the silver with his fourth-round throw of 87.54m. Jena booked a 2024 Olympics spot, for which the qualifying mark is 85.50m.

Chopra even cited several other instances of alleged “cheating”, including the red-carding of 100m hurdler Jyothi Yarraji for a false start before her medal was upgraded from bronze to silver, and not measuring Annu Rani’s throw.

“I felt bad that my first throw in such a big competition went like that. Jyothi ki saath bhi aisa huwa, mere saath garbar huwa hey. Jena ka ek throw mey bhi huwa. So there were issues, but finally, I would say our results were good. Despite whatever has been done, we have shown that we came prepared,” he said.

“Our team should certainly look into why there are so many issues we are facing, I have never seen these kinds of things in big competitions. I or some other athlete could have been mentally down after the first throw. Anything could happen. Jyothi also fought,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anju also alleged that Chinese officials are deliberately targeting Indian athletes.

“This is the Asian Games, not a small National Championship. I don’t know why they are doing this especially when they are targeting Indians. It was deliberate,” she said.

She even felt that one of the long jumper M Sreeshankar’s jumps wasn’t accurately measured.

“I doubt it was not 8.19m. It was much better than that and one of them raised the red flag. It was not a foul I guess.”

With agency inputs.

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Updated: 04 Oct 2023, 10:53 PM IST