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Neeraj Chopra and Tajinderpal Singh can clinch medals at Tokyo Olympics, says former athletics chief coach

Athletics - Commonwealth Games Day 10
Athletics - Commonwealth Games Day 10
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Navneet Singh

Despite their unimpressive showing in previous editions, India’s former chief athletics coach Bahadur Singh believes India's Olympic-bound throwers have a steady performance graph that will break the jinx in Japan.

“In my view, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor will repeat their home performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Neeraj and Tajinderpal are also capable of improving their personal best in Japan,” Bahadur Singh told Sportskeeda on Saturday.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, the majority of Indian athletes crashed out in the first rounds of their respective events. Barring women's 3000m steeplechaser Lalita Babar, marathon runners T Gopi and Kheta Ram, others failed to repeat their home performance achieved in the Olympic qualification events.

Lalita entered the final of the steeplechase with a national record of 9 minutes 19.76 seconds and finished 10th in the medal round. T Gopi and Kheta Ram clocked their personal bests in the marathon race.

According to Bahadur Singh, India’s former track and field coach and 1982 Asian Games medalist in shot put, India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will be the one to watch in Tokyo.

Neeraj has a personal and season's best of 88.07 meters recorded in March in Patiala. He is currently ranked tenth in the world.

Germany’s ace javelin thrower Johannes Vetter is currently the world's best, with a season's best of 96.29m.

Tajinderpal too performed exceptionally well in last month’s Indian Grand Prix IV held in Patiala. He qualified for Tokyo with a throw of 21.49m. The qualifying mark was 21.10m.

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Seven
17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Seven

Bahadur Singh said:

“I’ve seen the training of both Neeraj and Tajinderpal. They are consistent in their performance, which is a good sign.”

In men’s shot put, reigning Olympic champion Ryan Crouser of the USA has a season and personal best throw of 23.37m. This is a world record Ryan set recently at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene.

With Indian athletes winning gold medals at the Asian Games but failing to make an impact at the world level, Bahadur Singh says it's more mental than physical.

“Indian athletes feel at home at the continental level as they are at par with others. When it comes to the Olympics or world championships, Indians find the gap between them and other leading athletes a bit too wide. It weighs on the minds of Indian athletes. They get discouraged and fail to bridge the gap.”

Both Neeraj and Tajinderpal won titles in their respective events at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.

The following year, at the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships, Neeraj was unable to showcase his talent as he was on the injured list, while Tajinderpal crashed out of the qualification round. The Indian thrower recorded a season-best 20.43m in Doha but finished 18th overall out of 34 competitors.

According to the former India chief coach, the performance of the throwers has been better in the recent past, which is why he believes they can break the jinx.

He added:

“In my opinion, both Neeraj and Tajinderpal have been steady in their performance in the recent past. In throwing events, it is an advantage if an athlete has a steady performance graph in the buildup to major events.”

Also read: Why is Ryan Crouser considered the greatest shot put athlete of all time?


Edited by SANJAY K K
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