Disappointed but not disheartened to miss out on a Rio Olympic berth, sensational javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Wednesday said he is looking to put in the hard yards to earn India a medal at 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 18-year-old lad from Panipat created history by becoming the first Indian athlete to become a world champion at any level when he won a gold medal at the U-20 World Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, last Saturday.
Chopra threw a massive 86.48 metres the second time to not only seal his gold medal at World Championship but also broke the junior world record and senior national record but yet missed a berth at Rio as he achieved the feat after the qualification deadline was over on July 18.
“I was disappointed to miss out on Rio Olympics berth but the federation is still trying for a wildcard entry. If it comes through then fine but otherwise I am ready to work hard and win a medal for my country at 2020 Olympics,” Neeraj told reporters.
“I had a back injury in April and it affected my Olympic preparation. At Poland, I had a targetted gold medal but I am happy that I eclipsed the world record, I had worked hard for it. My confidence was high for the event. But I never thought I will break the world record.”
Neeraj’s throw makes him the eighth best among all throwers this season, and first among the junior throwers.
“I am from a normal Haryana family. I had to struggle early in my life when I had to travel for long hours but now I am training at Patiala and federation is also sending us to train outside. I will be training for World Championship next year,” he said.
His coach Garry Calvert also praised his student.
“He has a superior technique for his age and his whole character, he applies himself better than most. Now we have to go back to the drawing board and get more power and strength to match the men in the world.
“We saw this threw coming for 6-7 weeks. It was brewing while in Europe competing, he was performing at a high level. His worst throw was 79m which shows that we were on target. Some knew if he applies himself at qualifying round, he hit big position under massive pressure.
“The next stage is to reach 90-95m. I am trying to teach the Indian throwers not to think of distance but to think of execution of technique. The expectation was he will win but what we are happy about is that the throw was the end result of doing the movement properly,” he said.
Asked what struck him about Neeraj, the Australian said: “He leaves his arm back, keeps it way back and throws his body. That is an exceptional skill. He does it naturally. His arm stays back and body attacks.”