Tokyo: History created, but javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra doesn’t want to sit on his laurels. His next target is to go past the 90-metre mark as soon as possible. Chopra tried to break the Games record (90.57) here 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 Sunday.
“I was just focusing on Olympics this year. Now that I have won gold, I will plan ahead for the upcoming competitions. After returning to India, I will again plan to participate in international events. I have still a long way to go,” the dapper looking Chopra said. He is planning to attend Diamond League events in Lausanne (August 26), Paris (August 28) as well as the Zurich finals (September 9).
Chopra also said he was not under any undue pressure. “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 which 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,” Chopra informed.
“The most important thing was I got international competitions before Olympics. I was desperate for that. I requested Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS), SAI and Athletics 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,” added the history-maker.
Chopra was asked how he was able to come up with big throws in his first two attempts. “If the first throw goes well, then it releases the pressure. That happened. The second throw was also very good. I knew at the point of release both will go far. That must have put pressure on the other athletes,” Chopra said.
The Indian also talked about his friend and gold medal favourite Johannes Vetter of Germany. The latter was eliminated after the first three throws. “He was struggling, I don’t know whether it was because of pressure or was it due to playing in too many events. He was not in form,” Chopra who is a friend of Vetter off the field, pointed out.
The 28-year-old Vetter had come into the Olympics as the top contender for gold. He had thrown 90m-plus on seven occasions between April and June.
“I was feeling a little bad that he could not qualify in the final eight. He is such a good javelin thrower. However, I just focused on my performance. I respect him a lot. He is a good friend,” Chopra added.
After his exit, the German had said that he was happy to see Chopra win the gold. “He (Neeraj) is a really talented guy, always really friendly. I am happy for him,” Vetter had said Saturday.
Vetter and Chopra had travelled together for three hours from Helsinki when both competed in the Kuortane Games in Finland in June. Vetter had won the event while Chopra had finished third. The duo had discussed their game and life beyond it.
Tokyo: Klaus Bartonietz, the bio-mechanics expert who guided Neeraj Chopra to Olympic gold, said Sunday he felt overwhelmed at his ward’s feat to become the best in his sport. Bartonietz has been with Chopra since the second half of 2019 when the youngster was undergoing rehabilitation following an arthroscopic surgery on the elbow of his throwing right hand. “I feel overwhelmed that Neeraj was able to win a medal, not a bronze, not a silver, but a gold and he became the best javelin thrower in the world,” Bartonietz said in a short clip released by AFI. “It’s a great joy for AFI, for all the people who are interested in athletics in India,” said the German who left for his home Sunday morning.