Tokyo-bound Indian javelin thrower Shivpal Singh is eyeing the Diamond League, which begins at Rabat, Morocco, from May 23, as his final preparatory pit-stop before mounting a medal charge at the Olympic Games.
Shivpal Singh clinched his spot for Tokyo at the Athletics Central North East (ACNW) League Meeting in Potchefstroom, South Africa, in March last year, just before the COVID-19 lockdown disrupted the global sporting calendar.
He is the last Indian athlete who qualified for Tokyo before the pandemic struck. After the lockdown, Shivpal was training with fellow Tokyo-bound javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and other Indian Olympic hopefuls at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) Patiala campus in Punjab.
Last month, the group shifted base to the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, for a training camp, where Shivpal Singh is still training.
“Moving to Bhubaneswar has meant ideal training conditions. Fitness is optimum, throwing is consistent. There are plans for training in South Africa in January, then moving to Poland later on and participating in some European competitions,” Shivpal told The Hindu.
Out of competitive action since March last year, the 25-year-old Shivpal is itching to get back into a competitive frame of mind by participating at different tournaments. The Diamond League features at the very top of his agenda.
“My main target will be the Diamond League because you get the best competitors there and it will be the best way to assess myself before Tokyo,” he said.
Regarded as track and field’s premier annual competition, the Diamond League – into its 12th season this year - begins in May with the Meeting International Mohammed VI event in Rabat. The action shifts to Doha from May 28.
The series then heads to Rome for its first European pit-stop of the season on June 4, before athletes head to Oslo, Stockholm, Monaco and London. The league will then break for the Tokyo Olympics in July-August.
Shivpal Singh will be targeting the first half of the Diamond League to finetune his Tokyo preparations.
The 2019 Asian championships silver-medallist also admitted that the postponement of the Olympics by a year and the uncertainties related to competition schedule and training due to the pandemic were challenging.
But with normalcy being restored bit by bit, the javelin thrower is looking forward to a good run in Tokyo.
“Now, training is slowly getting back to optimum, competitions are being scheduled from early next year onwards and we have the Olympics as a specific target to work for. It’s become easier,” Shivpal Singh concluded.