No one since the great Milkha Singh has generated the kind of expectation and excitement that Neeraj Chopra has in the field of Indian athletics as a “serious contender” for an Olympic medal. And no wonder, when he says he will try his best to get that elusive medal and cross the 90-metre mark, one has to take him seriously.
“I am hopeful of giving off my best in all competitions and doing well for the country in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. My next target is to throw more than 90 metre. It feels good to be competing again after a long spell for the second time, first because of my injury and then because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Neeraj Chopra told newspersons in a video conference shortly after eclipsing his own national record with a 88.07 throw.
“There was a strong wind today and I have little experience of throwing in such windy conditions. My favourite Javelin was gaining much elevation in the wind. I then used another Javelin and focused on getting a good release. I didn’t feel I used much power with the fifth throw that went past the record,” he said.
After almost an year lay-off due to Covid 19 pandemic, Neeraj Chopra came up with another sensational “better than 2016 Rio Olympic bronze” effort to obliter his own national record that had fetched him a gold three years back in 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
Neeraj registered 80-plus throws in all four of his valid attempts with a record shattering 88.07m throw on his fifth attempt to better his mark in Jakarta by one centimeter (88.06m) to clinch a gold medal in the third leg of the Indian Grand Prix held in Patiala on Friday.
Chopra, who was representing Haryana in the IGP, had qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in January last year. The Tokyo Olympics qualification mark in men’s javelin is 85m.
If the throw is ratified by World Athletics, it will stand as a season-topping mark for the year so far in men’s javelin with current Olympics favourites Johannes Vetter (Germany) with 87.27m second in the list.