Two Indian javelin throwers may join the 90-metre club soon: Neeraj Chopra
New Delhi, Oct 11 (PTI) Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra believes the day is not too far when two Indians javelin throwers will join the elite 90m club following his stirring duel with compatriot Kishore Jena at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Exactly a week back, Chopra and Jena had produced season's best and personal best throws of 88.88m and 87.54m respectively to claim the gold and silver after an intense duel.
"In future I see two Indian javelin throwers joining the 90m club," Chopra said on the sidelines of a felicitation ceremony of the Asian Games athletics contingent by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
Chopra started his season by winning the Doha Diamond League in May but had to skip a couple of international events due to a groin issue.
However, he recovered from the niggle and bounced back to win gold at the 2023 World Athletics Championships held in Hungary and successfully defended his title at the Asian Games.
Chopra said that Jena's performance during the just-concluded Asian Games fired him up.
"It was a healthy rivalry between me and Jena during the medal round in the men’s javelin throw in Hangzhou," he said.
At one juncture of the javelin competition in Hangzhou, Jena had taken the pole position with a throw of 86.77m as Chopra trailed at second spot with a throw of 84.49m.
The lead was temporary as Chopra dug deep into his reservoir to hurl the spear to a distance of 88.88m to win gold. Jena’s best throw of 87.54m fetched him silver.
At the 19th Asian Games, Indian athletics contingent won 29 medals, six of them gold, 14 silver and nine bronze.
Adille Sumariwalla, president, AFI said the Indian squad could have enhanced the gold medal tally in Hangzhou but didn’t capitalize on the chances.
"I will say it was a bad miss in middle distance events and women’s 4x400m relay at the Asian Games," he said.
Sumariwalla, who is one of the vice presidents at the World Athletics, said the Indian athletes also gave a good account of their performance at the World Athletics Championship held between August 19 to 27.
"While Neeraj Chopra was crowned world champion, Jena and Manu DP were in top six, which suggest the growing stature of Indian javelin throwers at the global stage," he added.
Besides the javelin throw, the men's 4x400m relay team was impressive and shattered the Asian record during heats at the World Athletics Championships. The national team eventually finished fifth in the final and clocked 2:59.92 seconds.
"The outstanding performance in a packed 2023 season was a big boost to the confidence of the Indian athletes ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games," Sumariwalla said. PTI ATK AT