Recovering and returning to action after a year due to an elbow injury, Neeraj Chopra -- India's biggest hope for an elusive Olympic medal in athletics -- qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in Javelin with an impressive throw of 87.86m at the Athletics Central North East meeting in South Africa. And he did it in style as the throw was well over the Olympic qualification mark of 85m.
"This was just a warm-up competition for me and I am delighted to get such a distance and qualify for Tokyo Olympics. The first three throws were crucial and fourth attempt I knew it was coming. Now I have to remain injury-free and peak at the right time," Neeraj told Republic TV over the phone.
Not many could boast of being India's flag bearer at the age of 20 at any major multi-discipline world event or Games & not for nothing, ahead of many Indian sporting superstars, Neeraj Chopra held that Indian flag high during Indian contingent's march past at Asian Games opening ceremony on Aug 18. Neeraj's unbelievable throw of 88.06 meters in men's Javelin was not only enough to fetch him an Asian Games gold medal, but his dominance was evident from the fact that the silver medalist from China Liu Qizhen threw a good 6 meters less than the Champion.
With 88.06, Neeraj would have won Rio Olympics bronze and would have been the first Indian to win a medal in athletics. The brilliance of Neeraj's achievement is amply clear from the fact that India has won many medals in this edition of the Games but none of the 41 medals won so far other than this one came anywhere near a world level mark or performance. They were all good enough for Asian Games standard but none touched the Olympic level. Neeraj changed it all. Neeraj became the first Indian athlete to win a world title in athletics, at either senior or junior level, when he claimed gold in javelin at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. His score of 86.48 at the Junior World Athletics Championship in 2016 spelled shock waves across the globe and announced his arrival.
He would have easily qualified for Rio Olympics and would have given champions a run for their money but due to some technical reasons he had to miss it. But that miss gives him more power & reason to give his best shot at the coming 2020 Olympics Games to be held in Tokyo. Four months back, the champion thrower had won CWG gold with 86.47 meters and bettered this mark in Doha in a Diamond League championship with an astounding 87.43 meters. He chose to better his personal best at a bigger event... Asian Games this day with his personal best of 88.06 meters.
(Image Courtesy: PTI)