Tokyo: A history-scripting Olympic gold medal in his pocket, star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra’s next target is breaching the 90m mark soon in the coming events.
In fact, Chopra, who clinched the country’s maiden athletics medal to become only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics, went for it while trying for the Games record (90.57m) on Saturday but could not accomplish it.
“Javelin throw is a very technical event and a lot depends on the day’s form. Anything can happen. So, my next target is to breach the 90m (mark),” Chopra said after his historic feat.
“I was just focussing on Olympics this year. Now that I have won the gold, I will plan ahead for the upcoming competitions. After coming to India, I will again look for a foreign visa to take part in international events,” he added.
After pulling out of the Gateshead Diamond League on July 13, Chopra had said that he could participate in the remaining legs of the elite one-day meeting series after the Olympics. The Lausanne (August 26) and Paris (August 28) legs as well as the Zurich finals (September 9) will have men’s javelin events.
The 23-year-old son of a farmer from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana produced a second-round throw of 87.58m in the finals to end India’s 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics.
The Olympics is the grandest stage for any athlete and can be intimidating but not for Chopra, who said he did not take any pressure and was going about his job just like he does at any other international event.
“There was no pressure and I was taking it (Olympics) just like any other event. It was like I have played against these athletes before and there’s no reason to worry. I was able to focus on my performance. That has helped me win gold. “Yes, I did think about India not winning a medal in athletics but once I get hold of my javelin, all these things do not come to my mind.”
He was short on preparations in the run-up to the Olympics with just three international events under his belt, and only one of them featured a top class field. But he said he was happy to have got the chance to compete.
“The most important thing was I got international competitions before Olympics. I was desperate for that. I requested Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Athletis Federation of India (AFI) to arrange some. They arranged, and because of that, I am here now.
“For all the facilities I have got, I want to thank SAI, AFI and TOPS.”
Indian contingent give warm reception to Neeraj
India’s Olympic contingent here threw a warm reception for javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra after he became the country’s first track-and-field gold-medallist at the Games that will end this evening.
Indian athletes and officials, including men’s hockey skipper Manpreet Singh, lauded Neeraj’s historic achievement on Saturday night in a small celebration at the Games village.
Following a cake cutting ceremony, Manpreet showered praise on India’s first individual gold medal winner in Olympics’ track and field history.
“The whole country is talking about Neeraj at the moment. He has done all the hardwork and he deserves it (the gold). We all are very proud of him. “I also want to congratulate all the athletes who gave their best at the Olympics,” said Manpreet, whose team also did something special by winning an Olympic medal in hockey for the first time in 41 years. Manpreet also thanked the Indian officials for taking good care of the athletes.
A majority of the Indian contingent is set to fly back on Monday morning and with a host of felicitation ceremonies lined up for the medal winners, the celebrations will not stop anytime soon.
With seven medals in Tokyo, India recorded its best performance in Olympics surpassing the six medal effort in London 2012.
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