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Neeraj Chopra Wins Historic Silver at World Championships, More to Follow

Neeraj Chopra may have won an Olympic gold, a world championship silver, and many other titles. But the dynamic of javelin, as per studies, is such that his peak is a few years away. More medals are on the cards provided he remains injury free and maintains his hot form.
neeraj chopra silver at oregon 2022

Neeraj Chopra in action during the final of the men’s javelin event at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday (Pic: IE, Twitter).

 

Neeraj Chopra just won a silver in javelin at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, becoming the second Indian to win a medal at athletics’ showpiece event. The historic achievement, adding to his gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year, has attested his name as one of world’s top javelin throwers of the generation. 

It is never easy to be the world’s best and Chopra, and the fans back home in India, are realising this fact as we speak. The tag comes with its own set of performance yardsticks for measuring success. Silver, a world championships silver that too for a country like India would have been a cause for exuberant celebration. However, Chopra’s silver in Eugene feels like an underachievement. Just to get things clear, the silver is no mean feat. However, Chopra, given the goals he sets for himself, feels he could have done better. He promises to do better at the next Worlds. His immediate goal is the Commonwealth Games which begins in Birmingham later this month. However, soon after his Eugene silver, he spoke of the next edition of the Worlds, revealing what stuff this Indian champion is made of. 

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“I'm feeling really great today to have won a silver medal for the country. Next year again, we have the World Championships and the aim will be to do better there,” he said soon after sealing his medal.

Chopra, 24, explained the conditions at the venue 'were not good' and the 'wind speed was too high'. He was certainly not giving any justifications for ending a rung below on the podium. His rival, gold medallist Anderson Peters had a 'huge effort' and clearly, the better man won, conditions notwithstanding. Chopra acknowledges that.

 "While conditions were not good and the wind speed was too high, I was confident I would perform well. I am satisfied with the result, I am happy I was able to win a medal for my country. It might have looked easy but Anderson must have put in a huge effort to cross 90 metres. He is the world leader this year, throwing very good throws, several above 90 metres. I am happy he has worked so hard. This is good for me too, I have good competition,” he said.

Peters of Grenada, who defended his world crown in Eugene with a throw of 90.46 metres, is also 24. Chopra envisages Peters pushing him the next few years. He feels that the tough competition will make both of them push not just their limits but the performance boundaries of their event itself. The injured Johannes Vetter of Germany, one of the top throwers of the generation, is also not past his prime. At 29, a good few years are left in him, possibly the peak years.

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Such is the dynamic of javelin, where, much like race walking, the marathon or discus throw, world class athletes tend to peak between 30 and 40 years. A 2018 research on peak performances across various disciplines of athletes at the University of South Australia shed light on the fact that in javelin, the handgrip of athletes tend to peak in the 30s. That coupled by the refinement in technique the athlete is likely to achieve over the course of, say, 15 years in the top flight, means only one thing. Chopra may have won an Olympic gold, a world championship silver, and many other titles. But he has just begun. 

On Sunday, Chopra helped India win a medal after 19 years at the World Championships with a best throw of 88.13m. He began with a foul attempt in the final, even as Rohit Yadav, the other Indian in the fray, threw 77.96m. In the second round, Chopra threw 82.39m and Yadav bettered his previous throw to 78.05m. As the competition progressed, Chopra kept improving as he started mastering the conditions. The Tokyo Olympic medalist improved to 86.37m but still stood fourth with Peters leading the pack after throwing 90.46 metres in the second attempt. 

Chopra’s fourth throw pushed him to second spot where he remained till the end. “I was making the effort (in the first three throws) but it (big throw) was not coming. It was challenging but good that I made a comeback,” Chopra said of the way he progressed through the rounds in the final, making a huge comeback into the competition after a slow start.

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