Olympic javelin gold medallist Neeraj Chopra admitted he tries to give his best in the first couple of throws. But even if he delivers in the first few attempts, he stays on his toes till the last throw to sustain the pressure on his rivals. (More Sports News)
Chopra, who bagged a historic javelin gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year, has won most of his top competitions on the basis of his first couple of hurls. In Tokyo, on August 7 last year, his second throw (out of six attempts) soared 87.58m and earned him the top spot.
“I believe in giving my best from the first throw. In javelin, we get a limited number of chances and always have to be on our toes to give our best each time we throw the spear,” Chopra told Indian journalists in a virtual interaction on July 13, ahead of the World Athletics Championships 2022 in Eugene starting on July 15.
“Sometimes, that does not happen and so I have to try to get the best in later throws. But the mindset has always been to put pressure on rival throwers with your best each time you run on the track. One can’t be complacent after having a good first throw and I have to try to give my best till the last attempt,” the 24-year-old said.
Chopra's qualifying round will be held on July 21 and the finals on July 23.
Chopra will be one of the medal favourites in Eugene after pulling off the third-best throw of the season with an effort of 89.94m during the Stockholm Diamond League on June 30.
Since his Tokyo 2022 gold, Chopra competed in three events – Paavo Nurmi Games, Kuortane Games and Diamond League, finishing on the podium on all occasions and improving his personal best twice.
Chopra bettered his PB and national record of 88.07m (set at the Indian Grand Prix 3 last year) with a throw of 89.30m in his second attempt at the Paavo Nurmi Games, which fetched him the second position. At the Kuortane Games, he threw 86.69 m to clinch the top prize in wet and tricky conditions.
The Indian ace once again bettered his PB with a first throw of 89.94m at the Stockholm Diamond League to take the silver medal.
At the World Championships, Chopra's main rival for gold will be Anderson Peters of Grenada, the 2019 World Championships gold medallist. Peters heads to Eugene with the tag of owning four of the top five throws this season. His maximum, 93.07, is the best mark this season.
The 2017 World Champion, Johannes Vetter of Germany, who has the most number of 90m-plus throws among active athletes, has pulled out with a shoulder injury.
Chopra has beaten Peters twice this season -- at the Paavo Nurmi Games and the Kuortane Games. Nonetheless, he expects no easy breaks in Eugene.
“It is going to be a tough competition. Anderson Peters and Jakub Vadlejch (Czech Republic) have come good in recent times. Keshorn Walcott, Julian Weber and a few others have been consistent too,” Chopra said.
Asked what learning he would take from the 2017 World Championships in London, where he could not qualify for the final round, Chopra said he would not underestimate the qualification round.
“I am not taking the qualification round lightly, I have learnt that from London in 2017," he said. "At that time, I did not have much international experience. I thought I would clear 83m (the qualification mark in 2017) but failed to do it.
“If you don't do well in the qualification round and if you can't qualify for the final round, there is no point. I have to be focussed and give my best during the qualification round also,” Chopra said.
Chopra reiterated his mantra - focus on the task at hand and not worry much about other things.
“For me, it is about living in the moment and concentrating on that one thing you are doing at any given moment. If we focus on the moment, then I think it becomes a lot easier. If I am training and thinking of something else at the same time, then it becomes complicated and as a result, it affects both," Chopra said.