Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is now eyeing another gold at upcoming Asian Games, after winning the top honours in recently concluded Commonwealth Games. Neeraj admitted that Asian Games will be tougher than the Gold Coast CWG.
Neeraj throw 86.47m which was his best effort to claim gold medal at his CWG debut, but he said that effort will not be enough for a gold in the Jakarta Asian Games in August.
“Winning a gold in CWG with a very good effort early in the season is a big confidence-booster going ahead in the year. Not only the gold but the performance has made me assured that I can do better. Winning an Asian Games gold is my next target,” the 20-year-old Haryana athlete told PTI as reported by TOI.
“I worked hard to win the CWG gold and I will have to work even harder for the Asian Games. The Asian Games will be tougher (than the CWG) and I have to do better than my personal best (of 86.48m) if I have to win a gold in Jakarta,” he added.
Neeraj is targetting a throw of 90m before Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“In Jakarta, there will be Taipei’s Asian record holder Cheng Chao-tsun (who has a personal best of 91.26m) and then Ahmed Bader of Qatar, who can throw above 85m. So, it will a tough competition in the Asian Games and it will not be easy,” said Neeraj.
Taipei’s Cheng Chao-tsun has been Neeraj’s close rival in Asia in the last couple of years. Last year, the Taipei thrower got the better of Neeraj in an Asian Grand Prix event while the Indian got the better of him in the Asian Athletics Championships, held at Bhubaneswar. However, Chao is the only Asian to go past the 90m barrier in javelin throw.
Neeraj will be in Finland for six weeks before the Asian Games, to be a part pf the Athletics Federaion of India’s training-cum-exposure tour. All the top Indian Athletes will be sent to different countries, before the Asian Games.
“I will be preparing well for the Asian Games. I am going to start with the Diamond League in Doha on May 4 where the competition will be of Olympics and World Championships level with three-four competitors, who can hurl above 90m or near about consistently taking part,” said Neeraj
Neeraj will face a greater competition in Diamond League series, where he will be competing against the likes of reigning Olympic champion Thomas Rohler of Germany, world champion Johannes Vetter, also of Germany, and world silver-medallist and 2018 Diamond League champion Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic.
Neeraj has allready qualified for the Asian Games by getting past the qualifying standard of 81m.
After his heroics in Gold Coast, the international media described him as an Indian from a poor family but with Bollywood looks, on which Neeraj said, “It is up to them to write like that. I don’t take it seriously and it does not affect me. At this stage in my career, I am thinking just about my sport.