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Saturday, November 27, 2021
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Three Days After Winning Olympics Gold Neeraj Chopra Aims At World Championship Next Year

It’s only been three days since Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold-medal performance in the Tokyo Olympics, and he’s been in India for less than 24 hours. The country’s top javelin thrower, on the other hand, has already set his sights on the World Championships title next year.

In response to a question about his future goal, Neeraj stated that he would like to repeat long jumper Anju Bobby George’s accomplishment of earning a medal at the World Championships, even bettering her performance by placing first on the podium. Anju, who finished fifth in the Olympics, is the only track and field athlete to win a medal at the World Championships, a bronze in 2003 in Paris.

“I have already won gold at the CWG (Gold Coast 2018) and Asian Games (Jakarta 2018) and now an Olympic gold in Tokyo. So my next target is to win gold at the World Championships next year,” Neeraj said at a felicitation event hosted by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) here on Tuesday.

“World Championships is a big competition, sometimes even tougher than the Olympics. I am not going to be content with this Olympics gold and sit on my laurels. I would like to do even better and win gold again at the next year’s CWG and Asian Games and Paris Olympics 2024. The World medal, that is with Anju ma’am for now, and I want to win it too,” he continued. Anju, who was on stage next to Neeraj, smiled and wished the Olympic champion well.

From July 15 to 24, 2022, the World Athletics Championships will be held in the United States. It was originally set for this year in Oregon, but was postponed to next year after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed by a year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During his medal match in Tokyo, Neeraj revealed he planned to break the 90m barrier – a Games record of 90.57m – but couldn’t get the elevation correct. The Armyman, on the other hand, exuded confidence in his ability to succeed in future international tournaments. “That’s also one of my dreams and, to achieve that, I have to work on the angle of my release and technique. I went for the mark in Tokyo but couldn’t achieve it. I wanted to do it this year but then you have the most important thing, an Olympic gold. I will have to work with my coach to achieve that.”

Neeraj’s main challenger, Germany’s Johannes Vetter, who didn’t even make the eight-man final after placing ninth after two dismal throws of 82 metres and 82.57 metres, had hurled 90 metres or more seven times in 2021, with a personal high of 97.76 metres. Chopra won the gold medal with a best throw of 87.58 (on his second try) in the final. “Vetter is a good friend of mine. We often talk about our game. He couldn’t do well in the Olympics but he is still a world class 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 want my countrymen to respect him as well,” he added.

The selection in the national camp in 2015, according to the 23-year-old, was a turning point in his athletic career. “The training (at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula) was good but the facilities, equipment and diet support were not satisfactory. But when I joined the national camp in NIS Patiala, everything changed for me. Apart from the facilities and diet, the feeling that I was training with the country’s best javelin throwers gave me immense confidence. There were foreign coaches as well to guide you, so that also helped. I believe that joining the national camp changed my career.”

Neeraj claimed he realised the importance of his feat after arriving in India and saw hundreds of people lining up to see him and his gold at the Delhi airport and afterwards the Ashoka Hotel. “I was asking myself whether this was a dream. But then every time I see the gold medal with me, I know I am living a dream,” he said.

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