With the Tokyo Olympics 2020 set to take place from 24th July - 9th August in Japan, the race to seal a berth in the quadrennial event is heating up with every passing day. And, the most recent Indian athlete who made the cut for the event was ace Javelin throw specialist Neeraj Chopra, who sealed his spot with an 87.86m throw in South Africa last month.
Coming back from an injury that had kept him out of action for over a year, Neeraj Chopra is well and truly back to his best, and if his effort in South Africa is anything to go by, Neeraj is surely one of India's biggest prospects for adding to India's Tokyo 2020 Olympics medal tally.
Data and statistics can reveal patterns and can be used for prediction, yet, noted author Nassim Nicholas Taleb says historical data is not always accurate to predict events. He argues that life is full of improbable events - He calls such events as 'Black Swan events' - and hence historical data will not always be accurate to predict future events.
Yet, in Neeraj Chopra's case, that Black Swan event was his elbow injury which kept the youngster away from participating in competitions. Post his gold medal win at the 2018 Asian Games, Neeraj went under the knife to rectify his elbow issue. And, as expected, the rehabilitation time did keep him away from the action.
Numbers suggest Neeraj Chopra could win a medal
Post a fantastic 2018 season, Neeraj missed the whole of 2019 due to his injury, but he raked up some stunning numbers in 2018, including a seasonal best at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a national record throw of 88.06m at the 2018 Asian Games.
Commonwealth Games 2018
Asian Games 2018
What's interesting to note from Neeraj's wins at both these global tournaments is the fact that the silver medal winner made a throw almost 6m less than Neeraj, highlighting the youngster's extra effort in pushing for a win.
Yet, one might argue that these results came in events lesser than stature when compared to the Olympics, which is a different ballgame altogether. However, with the Olympic results under consideration, Neeraj still stands a good chance of claiming a medal at least, if not gold.
Below is the rundown of the results from the past three editions of the Olympics.
2016 Rio Olympics
2012 London Olympics
2008 Beijing Olympics
When one uses all these past results as a tool for comparison, it is imperative to note that his 88.06m throw, a national record would have fetched him Bronze at the 2016 Olympics, Gold at the 2012 Olympics and Silver at the 2008 Olympics.
With his 87.86m throw in South Africa, a major boost ahead of his training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Neeraj does have what it takes to challenge the current crop of javelin throw athletes from around the world.
Also Checkout: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Schedule
It is also interesting to note that 2016 Rio Olympics Gold medalist Thomas Rohler of Germany, who threw a distance of 90.30m to clinch the medal, threw 80.79m at the age of 20, his best throw at the time.
Neeraj, touted as a 'once in a generation talent' by his former coach Garry Calvert has managed to cross the 85m mark in quite a few throws and referring the youngster's consistent performances, World Champion Johannes Vetter said Neeraj could throw close to 90 soon.
Neeraj has already stamped his authority with a massive throw this year and has underlined his ability to stand tall above his competitors. With form on his side, Neeraj will be hoping to continue to carry all the momentum into the upcoming Federation Cup in March and ultimately into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
If the youngster does manage to consistently hit the 85-86m mark, he could eventually push for 87-88, which could be good enough to feature in the top three. And, with a good beginning for the year, the 22-year-old could be in line to etch his name in the history books.
India have never managed to clinch a medal in the javelin throw event in the history of the Olympics, and with hopes resting high on the talent of Neeraj Chopra, the youngster will be keen on ending this drought and claim a historic medal.
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