One of India’s prime medal prospect at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is pleased with his effort as he breached the Tokyo Olympics qualification mark in his first competitive meet on injury return. After sending the spear 87.8 meters long at the Athletics Central North East tournament in Potchefstroom, South Africa – Neeraj has marked a memorable comeback to the international stage.
The 22-year-old said qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics was on top of his mind and his ‘major target’ while recovering from an elbow injury which kept him away from the action for 16 months.
“I am extremely pleased with the performance. Going into the competition, I did not try to put much pressure on myself and was keen to test myself as it was my first meet in a long time.”
“The warm-up throws went very well, and even though my first three throws were around the 81-82m mark, I felt there were some flaws I could work on,” Chopra said from Potchefstroom after the meet.
With the throw, the reigning Asian Games Champion became the first Indian javelin thrower to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, starting in July.
“This was a major target for me during my rehab and I’m happy to have qualified. I will now get back to my regular training here in Potchefstroom with my coach and physio in a few days’ time and continue my training towards the Olympics.”
Neeraj’s last major international competition was the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games where he won gold with a national record throw of 88.06m. He said he will now focus on competing in more high-quality competitions at the Federation Cup and the Diamond League circuit.
“I will look to compete more in the coming months and am looking forward to more high-quality competition at the Federation Cup and the Diamond League circuit.”
At the meet in SA, Neeraj registered throws of 81.63m, 82.00m and 82.57m in his first three attempts. However, it was his fourth attempt which sealed the berth for him in the flight to Tokyo.
“It’s been a difficult time over the past year, but I knew I was preparing myself to come back stronger. I am extremely grateful for all the support and guidance I’ve received from all quarters and I am committed to come back stronger and make the country proud,” Neeraj added.
Neeraj’s compatriot Rohit Yadav, who was India’s another Javelin thrower at the ANCE League, registered the second-best throw of 77.61m. Rohit is currently training for the U20 World Championships later this year.
Neeraj had earlier missed the IAAF World Championships, the Diamond League and the Asian Championships last year.