The sporting career of Naveen Dagar, the 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist in 3000 metres steeplechase, has come to a halt temporarily due to multiple fractures in the shinbone of his left leg.
The 33-year-old athlete from Haryana sustained fractures during the Federation Cup athletics meet in Patiala on March 17. He has since been operated upon and has been advised bed rest. Although he hasn’t qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games, now even the upcoming opportunities to qualify have been washed away as he has been ruled out of action for the entire year.
“Due to multiple fractures the doctor has inserted a rod in the leg. However, I’m feeling better now. I will be visiting the doctor again next week, so that he can re-examine the injured leg," Dagar told IANS.
Steeplechase is considered one of the toughest track events. During the gruelling seven and a half laps of 400m track race competitors have to negotiate seven water jumps and 24 hurdles.
Dagar says he has started walking with crutches but within the room at his home in Haryana. “There is no pain. But I’m not putting too much stress on the injured leg," he said.
At the Federation Cup, Dagar’s aim was to break the 8-minute 30-second barrier. That would have been better than his personal best of 8 minutes 39 minutes, set in 2018 in Guwahati, but that would still have been short of the Tokyo Olympic Games qualification time of 8 minutes 22 seconds.
To achieve his target, Dagar got off to a good start. He was tucked behind Tokyo Olympic quota winner Avinash Sable for the first 1,000 metres of the race. But after he crossed the third water jump he fell and suffered multiple fractures in his left leg.
“It was an unfortunate incident. I was feeling good and was confident of clocking a good time," Dagar recalled.
The injury could take a long time to heal and Dagar knows it’s an uphill road to recovery. “I doubt if I would be fit to compete this season. But I would make an effort for the 2022 season," he added.
Even if Dagar is able to recover, says a national level coach, it would be difficult for him to compete in the steeplechase event because of hurdling and water jumps that put too much stress on the shinbone.
Dagar, however, wants to run again. “Let me recover first and then I will plan out which track event I’m able to run," he said.