Javelin ace Arshad Nadeem heads to Paris Diamond League ahead of Olympics – Sport

Pakistan’s javelin throwing phenomenon Arshad Nadeem is finally making his debut in the 2024 athletics season at this weekend’s Paris Diamond League.

The 27-year-old and his coach, Salman Butt, flew to Paris on Thursday morning ahead of the elite one-day track and field event on July 7.

His season opener in the French capital comes after he withdrew from the Paavo Nurmi Games in Finland last month following a mild calf muscle injury.

Despite the setback, the javelin ace said he felt confident with his recent training and overall fitness heading into Paris this week.

“Injuries are common for me, especially right now with the weather being incredibly hot and temperatures at 45 to 47 degrees, which leads to more sweating and increases the chances of injuries,” he told Dawn.com.

The goal heading into Paris — both this weekend and at next month’s Olympic Games — is to land a personal best throw, which currently stands at a whopping 90.18 metres, the furthest by any South Asian.

“Ultimately, if I can throw a personal best, there’s a chance I’ll end up winning a medal as well,” he said.

Coach Butt was on the same page regarding his fitness and training ahead of this week’s Paris debut before his Olympic performance next month.

“Ours is a lengthy journey, and you cannot analyse progress based on one injury or event,” Butt told Dawn.com.

“But we’ve bounced back, we did rehabilitation, and his training is going well,” said Butt, who has coached Nadeem since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he placed fifth in the finals.

Butt admitted that the two-week hiatus on javelin throwing following the injury was a source of apprehension.

“Hopefully things are holding up, and they work out for the best,” the seasoned athletics development director said.

When asked if the lack of competitions this year will affect his performance, Butt brushed it aside, saying “[Arshad’s] always been injury-plagued.”

Surely enough, the javelin powerhouse has bounced back from injury every time, and was especially grateful for a speedy two-month recovery following knee surgery in February, he said.

After adequate rehabilitation and recovery, Nadeem spent five weeks training with renowned javelin coach Terseus Liebenberg in South Africa, a second home to elite athletes looking to develop their sporting prowess.

On Wednesday, India’s reigning Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra took to social media to clarify that he wasn’t slated to compete in Paris this weekend, though he wished well to those competing.

Chopra began his 2024 season at the Doha Diamond League in May, taking home a silver with a massive 88.36m throw. He then wowed the home crowd at the National Federation Cup with a more modest 82.27m win.

The 26-year-old track-and-field star withdrew from the Ostrava Golden Spike athletics meet in the Czech Republic after feeling something in his abductor. He went on to his third meet of the season at the Paavo Nurmi Games to take home another gold in 85.97m.

The Olympics will be the first time the South Asian dynamos compete against each other since last year’s World Champions, where Nadeem made history by winning Pakistan’s first-ever medal at the prestigious championship with a silver, while Chopra bagged gold.

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