The much-anticipated clash between Tokyo Olympics champion Neeraj Chopra and his arch-rival Johannes Vetter at the World Athletics Championships 2022 will be a non-starter after the German javelin throw ace pulled out of the Oregon meet due to a shoulder injury.
Johannes Vetter, a 2017 world champion, went into last year’s Tokyo 2020 as the overwhelming favourite to win gold but was emphatically beaten by Neeraj Chopra. Since then fans have been eagerly waiting for a rematch between the two.
Both were expected to compete at the World Athletics Championships 2022, which will be held at Oregon, the USA, from July 15 to 24.
However, Johannes Vetter, who won bronze at the last world championships held in Doha in 2019, has withdrawn from the Oregon meet.
“As you probably have noticed, I haven’t shared much content over the past months. I have been fighting with shoulder problems since the beginning of the season. Therefore, we decided to not compete at the World Championship in Oregon,” Johannes Vetter wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday.
“It’s tough to say when I will be able to compete again and I will need the following weeks to digest this decision. Nevertheless, I will try to keep you posted and share a few more updates,” Vetter added.
Johannes Vetter has competed in only one event in 2022 – the Ursapharm Speerwurfmeeting in Offenburg, Germany in May.
He finished with a silver medal with 85.64m, a far cry from his personal best of 97.76m, which is the second-best throw in men’s javelin after Jan Zelezny’s world record.
Vetter’s withdrawal from the Oregon meet will give Neeraj Chopra’s medal chances a big boost. The Indian has never won a world championship medal.
Neeraj Chopra, who took a long break after the Tokyo Olympics, has been in great form since his return to competitive action.
Chopra marked a fine return at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland in early June, winning the silver medal with a new personal best throw of 89.30m. Oliver Helander of Finland, with a personal best of 89.93, won the gold medal.
Neeraj Chopra improved the national record to 89.94m at the Diamond League in Stockholm on June 30 but finished with silver.
With Vetter’s withdrawal, reigning world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who also denied Neeraj Chopra the gold at the Stockholm Diamond League, will be the Indian javelin ace’s biggest challenge at the world championships. Peters has already breached the 90m mark thrice this season.