Neeraj Chopra – a 20-year-old javelin thrower from Panipat – is achieving tremendous heights in the international circuit. From becoming the Junior World Champion (and also setting the Junior record) to winning the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games as well as the Asian Games in 2018, the humble boy with a charming personality has come a long way in such a short timespan.
Neeraj also enjoyed participating in the recently concluded 2018 IAAF Continental Cup. He had a throw over the 85m mark but it was marginally off the sector and was deemed a no-throw. Even though Neeraj failed to qualify for the semifinals of the event and finished 6th, he learned a lot and it was a unique experience for him as in the Continental Cup, teams are represented by entire continents so one's teammates are of other countries as well.
The athlete from Haryana is a firm believer of the 'Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn' philosophy and has shown signs of achieving even more greatness in the near future.
Speaking on his experience at the Continental Cup, Neeraj shares:
"There were different rules and the competition was intense at the IAAF Continental Cup, so I am fortunate to have participated and learned new things from it. The event requires you to be consistent and is a different ball game altogether. One thing which I have realized I need to work on is my technique. I lost out on a possible medal in the Continental Cup due to the sector out. I had narrowly escaped committing a foul due to the same error in the Diamond League, where I had finished 4th. I will try and work on this in the coming months."
Finally back in India, Neeraj shared his future plans for a grand welcome event organized by global sports drink, Gatorade. He also had a blast doing various fitness challenges with Mandira Bedi and the audience at the event.
Neeraj has become a world-class javelin thrower and his extraordinary achievements, especially in 2018, have got people dreaming of the elusive Olympic gold from him. It is important for Neeraj to remain level-headed and live up to the high expectations which he has set for himself.
The athlete from Haryana shares his future plans:
"It is a great feeling to have set another National record and win gold with the throw of 88.06m at the Asian Games. However, my aim now is to meet this distance consistently in training as well. I will give my 100 percent in order to achieve the 90m mark. Although, it is only a distance of 2m and may seem that it is easily achievable now that I have got to 88 -- in reality -- it is pretty tough and I still need to work really hard in order to achieve it. I now have my eyes set on the World Championships and 2020 Tokyo Olympics."
German legend and his current coach, Uwe Hohn, has identified the changes which need to be made in his technique and the two would try and make them in the upcoming training sessions. The angle of release is where the problem lies, and his natural release is such that the javelin lands more towards the left. It needs to be more centered if he wants to touch the 90 m mark and also avoid going off the sector.
"I did not have sufficient time to work on my technique but now I will try my level best to correct these mistakes before the World Championships. Johannes Vetter is one javelin thrower I look up to and I got a chance to interact with him during my training in Germany and have taken a few tips from him so I will try to put them to use as well."
In the meantime, Neeraj will also be traveling to his home after a period of 11 months to take some time off. When asked about what he missed most about Panipat, he just had one word to say, "Maa (Mother)."
The poster boy of athletics is going strong. Here is wishing him more strength and hoping that he not only wins an Olympic medal for the country but also sets the World record.
Do you think that the Panipat-born javelin thrower, Neeraj Chopra, has the ability to bring home India's first Olympic medal in athletics? Do share your opinions in the comments section below.