Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra targets improvement ahead of 2018 Asian Games
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Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra targets improvement ahead of 2018 Asian Games

Neeraj Chopra won the Commonwealth Games gold in javelin throw in April, but the challenge will be higher at the Jakarta Asian Games next month.

other sports Updated: Jul 20, 2018 10:15 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
2018 Asian Games,Neeraj Chopra,Javelin throw
Neeraj Chopra of India celebrates winning gold in the Men's Javelin final during athletics on day 10 of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on April 14, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Getty Images)

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has made a smooth transition into the senior ranks. From winning the 2016 World U-20 title with a world record, he improved his national mark to 87.43m in a Diamond League meet at Doha in May.

He also won the Commonwealth Games gold in April, but the challenge will be higher at the Jakarta Asian Games next month.

ALSO READ | Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra bags gold at Sotteville Athletics meet

Chen Chao-Tsun of Chinese Taipei set an Asian record of 91.36m last year, breaking the mark of China’s Zhao Qinggang (89.15m) set at the 2014 Incheon Games.

The 20-year-old, who is gearing up for Jakarta, spoke from his training base in Finland.

Excerpts:

Your win at the Sotteville athletics meet (France)?

I was aiming for 84-85m (threw 85.17m). This wasn’t really my target as I went there from training and wasn’t expecting much. My target now is Asian Games.

You won at CWG. How do you look at the Asian Games?

May be earlier the competition wasn’t tough in CWG but it now is. It is even tougher in the Asian Games. There are a couple of throwers who are very good. Last year, one threw 91m, so competition is high. It’ll be fun.

Indian throwers have won a bronze and silver at Asian Games, but no gold.

We haven’t won at Asian Games, but can’t say right now because you never know during a competition, whether it gets tight or not. I’ll try to give my best, the rest depends on who does well on the day. Like in Olympics, people have won medals with far shorter throws, but in Diamond League this year the first three (throws) were above 90m.

The Diamond League final will clash with Asian Games. Will you compete in both?

The Diamond League final (Zurich) is just 3-4 days after the Games. I hope to perform well in Jakarta. If everything goes well, I’ll go. Otherwise, I’ll discuss with my coach and maybe take part in some other competition.

How do you see your progress since the U-20 worlds?

I got recognition after the world juniors. I have improved a lot since then, technically and in power. I am building my core strength which helped me achieve my personal best in Doha. It is going well. I’m just hoping in the time to come I’ll do even better.

You have consistently touched 85m this year. What will it take to reach 90m?

See, to increase a few metres is very tough. In 2016, I threw 86.48m and in 2018 I did my personal best (87.43m). It is very difficult to increase the distance, but I am trying, working hard towards it.

You trained with coach Garry Calvert, and now are under Uwe Hohn. Compare their style?

I’ve trained with both. I went to Germany too with Werner Daniels. Each coach trains differently, it is not similar at all. All have different technical aspects. It all depends on what suits them. My experience with all coaches has been good.

Compare training in India to Europe?

The weather, diet and facilities here are complete but the main thing is we get a lot of competitions in Europe. India has far too less. They keep happening here so we keep getting chances to perform among good athletes.

How has interacting with the world’s best throwers helped?

It feels normal now, doesn’t make too much difference since I started taking part in Diamond League meets. Earlier, it was a new experience but now when I go, there is no pressure and I play like a normal athlete. The advantage gained is that there is no pressure and we get used to it by playing continuously.

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 10:00 IST