Neeraj Chopra is undoubtedly India's best hope in javelin throw at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. However, javelin throwers DP Manu, Rohit Yadav and Annu Rani will also be gunning to share the honors.
Manu, Yadav and Annu have been good performers in javelin of late. One of them could make this season count and ensure a breakthrough year for javelin throwers.
Manu has been one of the rising stars this season. He breached the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games qualification mark when he sent the javelin to 82.43m, a personal best, at the Indian Grand Prix last month.
Rohit Yadav too isn't left behind. He registered an 81.83m throw at the Federation Cup Athletics meet last week and pipped Manu to the gold medal. Manu managed a sub-80m throw, recording only 79.17m.
Javelin coach optimistic of athletes doing well this season
Kashinath Naik, who has trained Chopra, Manu and Yadav opined that the latter duo would be gunning to prove their worth at the Commonwealth Games. The former international and 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist told Sportskeeda:
"They (Manu and Rohit) could be the next flag bearers in the sport after Neeraj Chopra. Manu has improved well over the last few years and is consistently reaching the 80m mark from the 65m mark where he was a few years ago. Rohit has also been working hard to increase his range."
Naik took Manu into his fold at the Army Institute of Sports in 2019 when he spotted a spark in him. He added:
"What caught my attention was Manu's ability to clear long distances. He is young, he is just in his early 20s. His height, build and speed are his advantages and his strategy would be to work around his strengths. He has shown good improvement gradually."
In the women's category, Naik opined that it would only be Annu Rani who would be leading the race in India as no other athlete could come to her.
In the recently concluded Federation Cup in Kerala, Annu Rani won the gold medal with a throw of 61.15m. Shilpa Rani of Haryana came a distant second, managing just 55.72m.
Naik said Neeraj Chopra must walk the extra mile if he has to achieve his goal of breaching the 90m mark this season. The ace javelin athlete has iterated that going past the 90m mark is one of his goals this season. He concluded:
"He has to work extra hard. He is consistent at the 88m mark in every training, every event and to achieve that extra distance, he has to work a little harder. His focus and commitment is excellent and he will be breaching that mark sooner than later."