- April 19, 2018
- Posted by: Stephen Hannon
- Category: News, Road to PyeongChang
Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has a very precise target in mind.
3 metres and 52 centimetres.
That’s the improvement needed on his personal best for him to reach the magic mark of 90 metres.
According to Chopra, only then can he start thinking about competing at the highest level:
“If I can throw that much then I will be able to win a medal at world level and also at the Olympics,” Chopra told timesofindia.com.
Chopra set his PB two years ago when victorious at the World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
His throw of 86.48 metres was also a new world junior best, and earned praise from India’s president and prime minister.
Last year his best effort came at the Asian Championships, where he launched a winning throw of 85.23 metres.
This season has started with his biggest victory so far.
Chopra returned to Delhi late on Wednesday, hailed as a hero after his exploits at the Commonwealth Games.
The 20-year-old captured India’s only athletics gold at the Gold Coast Games with a throw just one centimetre short of his best ever.
But in his search for further improvement, Chopra has turned towards the powerhouse of javelin: Germany.
Prior to the Commonwealth Games, the thrower spent three months receiving guidance in Europe from Werner Daniels.
Daniels also works with world champion Johannes Vetter.
Down in Offenburg, he spent much of his time building core strength and power.
Chopra is also regularly coached by another German Uwe Hohn, the man who once held a world record throw of 104.80 metres (before the javelin was redesigned).
“I’ve been improving steadily, ” Chopra told tribuneindia.com after his Commonwealth Games success.
“For three months, I’d been in Germany, to train there. Working with Werner Daniels in Germany was also very helpful, and I’ve been training and learning from Uwe Hohn also. I’ve learnt a lot from these coaches in the last six months,”
Rather like Rio 2016 silver medallist Julius Yego of Kenya, Chopra had an unconventional route into the world of javelin throwing.
The son of a farmer near the Indian city of Panipat, his first love was cricket.
But after discovering javelin, a new interest began to flourish – although his progress was hampered by a lack of formal coaching.
Instead, Chopra taught himself to throw by watching videos of the great Jan Zelezny on YouTube. Much like Yego had done before him.
The Indian will next be in action at the opening IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season in Doha on May 4th.
Then in August, his attention will turn to the Asian Games in Indonesia.
But the big target is to become a genuine world contender in two years time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
And a chance to launch into Indian sporting immortality.