Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian javelin thrower to win an Asian Games gold medal as he shattered his own national record by clearing a distance of 88.06m in Jakarta on Monday. The 20-year-old’s winning throw came in his third attempt. Chopra’s gold is India’s only second medal in javelin throw in Asian Games history after Gurtej Singh won a bronze in 1982 in New Delhi.
The Commonwealth Games and reigning Asian champion completely dominated the competition as he bettered his own national record of 87.43m, which he had achieved in Doha during the first leg of the Diamond League series in May. None of the competitors in the field had a 85m-plus throw this season.
To keep a step ahead of his competitors, he will need to progress closer to the 90m mark. If he believes – and is able to convince the Federation – that he should continue his training with Werner Daniels in Offenburg, Germany, rather than in the National camps, he must be encouraged to make that his base over the next two years.
It is tough to forget that the lad taught himself the art of throwing a javelin by watching YouTube videos of Jan Zelezny and has already had more coaches that he would have liked. He trained with Australian Garry Calvert, including in Spala, Poland. Later, Neeraj Chopra has journeyed to Germany seeking improvement. It may not make sense to tamper with his technique now.
Yes, indeed, this pride of India has a mature head on his young shoulders. It is this quality that endears him to everyone, even his competitors.