Neeraj: '2m sounds easy, but it isn’t'

He may be the poster boy for Indian athletics, but at 20, Neeraj Chopra knows he has a long way to go before being counted among all-time greats.

Neeraj Chopra won the Asian Games gold with a 88.06m throw, but missed out on medals at the Diamond League and IAAF Continental Cup.   -  PTI

Neeraj Chopra returned home for the first time after that 88.06m put him well ahead of the competition in the final. But the Asiad Champion and the poster boy for Indian athletics recognizes that there is still a lot of hard work to be done.  

“I threw 86m in 2016 at the World Junior Championships. This year I managed 88m at the Asian Games. Two metres sounds too easy but it takes a lot of hard work and effort. Then again, I might have managed to cross that mark at the Asiad if I had got the direction right. Now I will be working on it and 90m is in my hand now, it will take a slight adjustment in technique and a lot of hard work,” Chopra said during an interaction in New Delhi.

His technique is his primary concern. At the IAAF Continental Cup, the 20-year-old missed out on advancing to the fourth round, despite being one of the medal prospects. In the innovative format that pits players from four continents against each other, a foul throw saw him being edged out by Chao Tsung-Cheng of Chinese Taipei.

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It was the third time in as many events that his throw missed the sector, despite going a good distance. At the Asian Games, his gold-winning throw of 88.06m landed just inside the sector. At the IAAF Diamond League after that, he barely kept the javelin in. Chopra admitted it was a concern.

“Something clearly went wrong, either with the technique or something else because of which I missed out on a medal at such a big event. My throws are going a bit too much to the left. There wasn’t enough time to work on the issues after the Asiad but now there is time and we will work on it before the World Championships next year,” he explained.

READ | IAAF Continental Cup: Bronze for Arpinder, Neeraj sixth

With the long season almost over, Chopra will be going home for a while – after 11 months, he reminded – before joining the national camp in Patiala under Uwe Hohn. And though his big target is the Olympics, Chopra knows there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. “It all depends on the momentum going into that particular day in any competition. Even someone like Johannes Vetter or Thomas Rohler cannot guarantee they will manage 94 or 95 metres every time. At London Olympics, even 84m was enough to get gold. At Diamond League, I managed over 85m and still finished only fourth,” he said.