A gold at the Tokyo Olympics is not enough for India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who now has set his eyes on World Athletics Championships, to be held in US in 2022.
“I have already won gold in Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and now at the Olympics. My next target is winning a gold in World Championships,” Chopra said at a press conference organised by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to honour him.
Chopra scripted history on Saturday (August 7) when he clinched India’s elusive Olympic medal in athletics to become only the second Indian to win the yellow metal in an individual event with a best throw of 87.58m in the final.
“World Championships is a big competition and sometimes tougher than the Olympics. I am not going to be content with this Olympic gold and sit on this laurel. I would like to do even better and win gold again in Asian Games, CWG and again in Olympics,” said Chopra.
Anju Bobby George had won a bronze in long jump in the World Championships in Athletics in Paris in 2003. Till date, she is the only Indian athlete to have won a medal at the World Championships.
On his Olympics feat, Chopra said, “I couldn’t believe that I won a gold. I asked myself if this is a dream, but realised it was true.”
Chopra said that he had been woken up early in the morning thrice for dope tests during his stay at the Olympics village. He said it was difficult for him to adjust his sleep time after reaching Tokyo from Sweden, where he was training before the Olympics.
About German superstar Johannes Vetter, who came to Tokyo as the gold medal favourite but failed to make the last eight in the final, Chopra said, “He is my good friend. He couldn’t do well in the Olympics but he is still a very good javelin thrower. He has six-seven 90m plus throws this year and his best was near the world record of Jan Zelezny. I respect him a lot and I asked my countrymen to respect him.”
The 23-year-old athlete feels that his inclusion in the national camp organised by AFI in 2015, despite finishing 5th at the National Games in Kerala, was a turning point in his career. Before that Chopra was training at Tau Devi Lal Stadium at Panchkula.
“We did good training but the facilities, equipment, diet were not that good (at Panchkula). Once I joined the national camp (at NIS Patiala) everything changed. I got better facilities, better diet and equipment only after joining national camp. And the most important thing is the feeling that I am training along with the best javelin throwers of this country. That is a different feeling,” said Chopra.
At the national camp, Chopra met late Australian coach Gary Calvert. After that, he was under former world record holder Uwe Hohn, before switching to train under bio-mechanics expert Klaus Bertonietz, who accompanied Chopra to Tokyo.
Chopra said he will have to make changes in the angle of release of the javelin to be able to cross the 90m mark. “90m mark is my dream and I will have to work with my coach to achieve that. I wanted to do it this year but Olympic gold is there, that’s the most important thing,” he added.
The World Championships was supposed to be held in 2021, but was postponed by a year because the Olympics got delayed. The championship will be held in Eugene, Oregon, from July 15 to 24 next year.
(With inputs from Agencies)