New Delhi: At the young age of 20, it is the Panipat born Neeraj Chopra who is considered to be one of the brightest hopes for Indian athletics in the year 2018. Mind you, the young man is more than up for the challenge and his hunger for glory is insatiable.
Neeraj began 2018 on a bright note as he clinched a Silver medal at the International Javelin Meet at Offenburg in Germany, falling behind Germany’s Johannes Vetter by only 1.28m. The result though hasn’t matched the high standards he sets himself.
“I was up against a World Champion, but even then I should have done better. I was unable to get the correct amount of power and speed in the build-up to my throws,” Neeraj told News18Sports after returning from Germany.
The 2017 Asian Champion threw 82.80m in Offenburg, a few metres off his personal best of 86.48m which he clocked at the 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland to become the first Indian to win an international medal in the Javelin event.
Promising start to year 2018 in offenburg With 82.80m throw... pic.twitter.com/oONkFtfyEV— Neeraj Chopra (@Neeraj_chopra1) February 4, 2018
“My biggest task and the only thing I am worried about going into the season is staying injury free. If I can manage that and work hard I am sure results will follow,” he added.
Looking ahead to the upcoming year, Neeraj acknowledges that 2018 is going to be his biggest challenge, simply because of the number of competitions that are on the agenda. The Commonwealth Games begins in April, while the Asian Games is in August alongside the IAAF Diamond League competitions.
“This year there are a lot of competitions that will have some of the best in the world which is a very good challenge for me. To start with I need to improve on my personal best and look to throw upwards of 88m,” Neeraj said over the telephone.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, in the men’s Javelin event, the German Thomas Rohler took Gold with a throw of 90.30m, whilst Silver went Julius Yego with a throw of 88.24m.
At the 2017 World Championships in London, Neeraj was expected to be India’s entry in the final round of the Javelin event, but the young man faltered as he threw 82.26m – 74 cm short of the automatic qualification mark. Neeraj who was without a coach at the World Championships though vowed to comeback stronger.
“Having a coach present that day would have helped. The coach is always in a better position to spot mistakes which can be worked on instantly. But that is the past, and now I have to work for the upcoming competitions,” opines Neeraj.
The 20-year old who was in the final few weeks of teenage left for Germany after the disappointment in August where he has been fine tuning his technique.
“I have been working on improving my running and the throw. I have altered my technique a bit and hope it will add more power to my throw.”
On return from Germany, Neeraj has wasted no time in joining up with the new national coach and the legend of the Javelin Uwe Hohn. The German who was previously coaching the Australians is the only man to have thrown a javelin more than 100m (104.80m in 1984).
“It will be a great learning experience to work with Uwe Hohn. I did interact with him in London during the World Championships and I have already started working on the core parts at training,” Neeraj signed off.