'I would put this on top of the list'

'I would put this on top of the list'

Neeraj Chopra flashes a smile after receiving the javelin throw gold at the Asian Games on Monday. REUTERS

Neeraj Chopra revealed true championship class at the Asian Games on Monday, lifting his performance by a couple of notches to fulfill his promise.

Gold was expected from Chopra but it wasn’t a certainty. The 20-year-old, however, played his part to perfection with a national record, underlining his status as India’s best athlete at the moment.

“I didn’t come with any specific target distance-wise, though I would have loved to break the Games record (89.15 set by Zhao Qinggang in 2014). But the javelin’s elevation was too high that is why it didn’t go that far,” said Chopra about his winning throw of 88.06m. 

The 20-year-old has had a busy time winning gold medals after breaking through with his world junior title two years ago. He is the Asian champion and the Commonwealth Games champion but Chopra ranked the Asiad medal as his best.

“In our country, a lot of value is attached to the Asian Games, so I would put this on the top of the list,” said Chopra. “Competition-wise, the Olympics and the World Championships rank higher, but I am yet to reach there. I am just delighted that I broke the national record. My aim was to give my 100 percent and play my heart out.”

Chopra also paid tribute to his former coach Gary Calvert, who passed away last month. “I was very sad. I worked hard with him in 2016 and 2017. I had talked to him recently and he said he would meet me at the Asian Games. It is god’s will, we can’t do anything about it.” 

Chopra now has a busy two weeks ahead of him. He will compete in the Diamond League finals in Zurich (August 30), followed by the Continental Cup in Ostrava (September 8-9). “These will be tough competitions but I will try my best,” he said.

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