Manu DP clinched the javelin gold medal at the 36th National Games at the IIT Gandhinagar ground with a throw of 80.74m. The 22-year-old was quick to admit that it was not one of his best efforts and insisted that his immediate goal is to cross the 85m mark.
“This effort wasn’t the best,” he said immediately after confirming the gold medal “During training, I consistently get 80+ throws, it is a vast improvement from last year. For the National Games, the body was loaded (more intake of protein and supplements), and the weather here was demanding.”
“The goal is to throw in excess of 85m in the new season, I have already thrown 84.35m at Inter-state Nationals before the 82.28m at the Commonwealth Games,” said the youngster who likes to spend the eve of any competition watching throwing videos of Neeraj Chopra and other record holders.
Manu, who is a big fan of Neeraj Chopra admitted that he had a long way to go before joining the elite brigade of javelin throwers from Asia that also includes Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem.
Nadeem recently became the second Asian and 23rd in the world to hurl the javelin past the magic mark of 90m. The Pakistani thrower achieved the milestone at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, where he clinched the gold medal with a Games record effort of 90.18m.
India, however, returned empty-handed in the absence of Chopra, who had pulled out due to a groin injury. The two Indian throwers at the event Manu and Rohit Yadav finished fifth and sixth with best efforts of 82.28m and 82.22m, respectively.
For the 22-year-old Manu, his performance in Birmingham was never about shattering any records. He boarded the flight to Birmingham with the simple idea of giving his best at his maiden international meet.
“This (CWG) was my first major international tournament, it was a great learning experience. My effort was nowhere near to what Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem achieved. I did not go with the baggage of eclipsing any record. The plan was simple. I wanted to give my best as I know Apna bhi time ayega (My time will also come),” he said.
Left to train all by himself in the absence of his Services coach Kashinath Naik, Manu admitted to being clueless in Birmingham, as all he could afford was a video call to the 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, posted at the Army Institute of Sports (ASI), Pune.
“What I missed most at the CWG was the absence of my coach. There was no one to guide me during training. All I could do was a video call with my coach to discuss my strategies. For me, coach Naik sir’s advice is the final word,” he said.
“Also, the absence of Neeraj bhai at the CWG was a big blow for us. Arshad did speak to me during training, he advised me to give my best,” recalled the youngster from Hassan in Karnataka.
“Neeraj bhai also messaged me ahead of the CWG and advised me to express myself. He has been the biggest motivation for all the junior throwers. It feels special that Neeraj bhai is from India and he has achieved so much. His feats challenge us to give our best in every effort,” said Manu.