Neeraj Chopra eyes elite league after setting javelin throw world record in 2016
India’s poster boy of athletics --- Neeraj Chopra is focused on entering the big league in 2017, having set a junior world record of 86.48m in javelin throw.
After accomplishing the feat in the Polish city of Bydgoszoz in July, he is aiming for a podium finish at the senior World Championship.
Going into the new season, Neeraj will look to stay in the 83-metre mark, which is also the qualifying mark for the world meet at London in August. “The bigger goal will be to make the finals of the world meet and aim for a podium finish,” he said.
Long jumper Anju Bobby George is the only Indian to mount the podium at the Worlds, winning bronze in 2003 at Paris.
Neeraj, who turns 19 on Saturday, needs to work on his strength and technical aspects to hit the 84-86m mark in the pre-season, said coach Gary Calvert.
“His strength needs to improve. Better physical strength will prepare him for the season starting from May to August,” he said.
By virtue of touching 86.48m this year, Neeraj is also eligible to compete in the competitive Diamond League circuit.
Participation in the challenging league in the build up to the World Championship will be an advantage. “Rubbing shoulders with the best in the business will prepare us mentally and physically,” said Calvert.
After setting the world mark in July, Neeraj took eight weeks off before beginning his preparations for next year. “I think I deserved the rest,” he joked, adding, it was necessary as he felt mentally tired and wanted to start with renewed energy.
Besides Neeraj, there are good throwers like Rajender Singh in the national camp who have the ability to touch over 83m next season.
“We have healthy competition at home, and it will help push us to achieve excellence,” said Neeraj.
If the world record was his high point of 2016, he rued missing out on the Rio Olympic qualification mark. “We made so many mistakes, which was why he (Neeraj) peaked too late and failed to qualify for the Olympics before the July 12 deadline,” said Calvert.
Learning the hard way, the Australian says the plan for next year is to compete in fewer events. “We will only participate in tournaments that will count in our build up,” said Calvert.