'Must prepare mentally': Neeraj Chopra on reaching Olympics javelin final
- The 23-year-old from Haryana became the first Indian javelin thrower to enter the final
- All it took him was just one impressive throw of 86.65m
- 'I will need to focus and repeat the performance," Chopra said
Minutes after javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra made it to the finals at Tokyo Olympics with a 'perfect throw', he said that he needed to improve in the finals. The 23-year-old from Haryana became the first Indian javelin thrower to enter the finals of the Games. And all it took him was just one impressive throw of 86.65m.
The throw put him on the top of the Group A qualification. But, Chopra is not letting the guard down. "I will need to focus on the throw, and try to repeat this (performance) with a higher score," he said, according to PTI.
It took Neeraj Chopra just a few seconds to make that cut, sending the spear past the qualifying mark of 83.50m in his first attempt. "I am at my first Olympic Games, and I feel very good. In warm-up my performance wasn't so good, but then (in the qualifying round) my first throw had a good angle, and was a perfect throw," Chopra said after his event, the report adds.
Chopra, a farmer's son from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana, is aware of the challenges the finals may present. The thrower, however, has no doubt that he is physically prepared for the gruelling finals. "But, I will need to prepare mentally," he adds.
Preparing for Olympics
Speaking about his preparation for the big game, Chopra the year, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, was difficult. "But when Japan said they could do the Olympics, we prepared our mind and trained very hard."
Chopra, the reigning Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was not able to train as much as he would have wanted. He could participate in just three international events, out of which only one -- Kuortane Games in Finland -- was of top-class level. He finished third and Johannes Vetter of Germany walked away with the gold.
The Olympics throw was Chopra's seventh best and third best of the season 2021.
His earlier six best throws are 88.07m (March 2021; Indian GP-3), 88.06m (2018, Asian Games), 87.87m (January 2020; ACNW Meeting in South Africa), 87.80m (March 2021; Federation Cup), 87.43m (May 2018, Doha Diamond League) and 86.79 (June 2021; Kuortane Games).
Chopra's performance on Saturday will go down as one of the best by an Indian in the Olympics. He finished ahead of gold medal favourite and 2017 world champion Johannes Vetter.
Vetter, who had earlier said that Chopra will find it tough to beat him in the Olympics, struggled in his first two throws before crossing the automatic qualification mark with a 85.64m final throw.
The 28-year-old German, who came into the Olympics after having seven huge throws of over 90m between April and June, was lying at a dangerous seventh position after his first two throws but eventually qualified for the final at second.
Finland's Lassi Etelatalo also advanced to the final as an automatic qualifier with a first round throw of 84.50m.