It was a tough contest; I will take the silver: Neeraj Chopra
“I will take it,” said Neeraj Chopra, who felt “something” on his strapped thigh, on way to what he termed a challenging history-scripting silver at the World Championships javelin throw final in the US.
Chopra, the reigning Olympic champion, admitted that his comeback from outside medal position midway into the final was “challenging”.
He, however, said that he was sure of striking a good throw.
He was lying at fourth position after three rounds of throws, having opened with a foul before registering 82.39m and 86.37m in his next two attempts. He got his rhythm back with a big fourth round throw of 88.13m, his fourth career-best effort, to jump to second place, which he held on to till the end.
“Conditions were challenging, there was wind coming from front. It was a tough competition with very tough competitors. It was challenging for me, but I was confident that a good throw will surely come. I was making the effort (in the first three throws) but it (big throw) was not coming. It was challenging but good that I made a comeback,” the 24-year-old Chopra said at a virtual press conference.
“I am happy to have won a silver, the country’s first medal in World Athletics Championships after 19 years, I will take it,” he said.
Chopra said he felt some tightness on his thigh after the fourth throw and could not do well in the last two throws which were fouls.
“I thought even the fourth throw could have gone farther. After that, I felt something on my thigh and could not do my best in next two.”
“I had strapping (on thigh). I will know the status tomorrow morning because my body is still warm after the event. I hope there should not be any issue for the upcoming events, Commonwealth Games.”
— ANI (@ANI) July 24, 2022
Defending champion Anderson Peters of Grenada won the gold with a massive throw of 90.54m. He was a class of his own in the final as he had three massive 90m-plus throws – in the first two rounds and the last attempt.
Olympic silver winner Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic took the bronze with 88.09m.
The Indian fans are used to watching Chopra having big throws in the first two rounds but it was a different scenario in the World Championships final. Chopra had won gold in Tokyo Olympics last year with a second round throw of 87.58m and just needed a first round effort of 88.39m to qualify for the finals at second place here.
His trademark big smile was back after the fourth round throw as Chopra, the son of a farmer from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana, did the calm-down gesture and showed the victory sign with his right hand.
After his historical win, celebrations were seen at Chopra ancestral house in Haryana, where women folk broke out into a dance once his silver medal was officially announced.
— ANI (@ANI) July 24, 2022
Chopra had won Indian athletics maiden gold in the Tokyo Olympics last year. He is only the second Indian to have won an individual gold in the Olympics, after shooter Abhinav Bindra, who clinched the yellow metal in 2008 Beijing Games.
Asked if he was feeling the pressure of being an Olympic champion heading into the World Championships finals, he said, “I never felt that kind of pressure. My focus was always to give my best, improve upon my best.”
“Of course, I was in a challenging position (after third round) but I was confident that I will have a good throw somehow. I kept trying and it came.”
Giving glimpses of his sportsman spirit, Chopra said that an athlete cannot win all the time and needs to take lessons from every challenges he faces.
“An athlete cannot win a gold every time but we have to keep trying and give our best. I have learnt a lot from the challenging situation today and I will work for improvement. I will try to change the colour of medal (to gold) in the next World Championships in 2023 (in Budapest),” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)