Neeraj Chopra interview: What does Neeraj make about his finish with Jena in Asian Games 2022?

Neeraj Chopra was able to defend his Asian Games gold medal from Jakarta in Hangzhou after overcoming a stiff difference from Kishore Jena.

Neeraj Chopra has achieved tremendous history by winning the gold in javelin in Tokyo Olympics 2020. (Image credit: Twitter)
By Soumya | Oct 7, 2023 | 4 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

India was a heavyweight in the field of athletics during the 1960s. The man who made it to headlines then was the “Flying Sikh” i.e. Milkha Singh. However, over the years the scenario in Athletics has waned significantly. The last beacon of light in the circuit was P.T. Usha. However, after that, there was a significant dearth in Indian athletics. When it seemed that everything was ending for India in athletics, a certain boy from Haryana decided to carry the baton of athletics at the world level. That boy is Neeraj Chopra, also known as ‘Mr. Javelin’.

Neeraj Chopra is one of the rising talents in the world of athletics especially that of javelin. His on-field exploits have catapulted the entire image of India at the world circuit. To begin with, this includes a silver in the Asian Junior Championship. He followed it up with a gold at the World Junior Championship, Asian Championships, South Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. But perhaps the crowning moment in Neeraj’s life was the Tokyo Olympics where he bagged the gold medal with a throw of 87.58 m. Thereby, Neeraj became only the second athlete to win an individual gold medal after Abhinav Bindra. However, the Haryana boy did not stop over here, he subsequently won a gold medal at the Diamond League (2022). This year, Neeraj has climbed to the pinnacle of Athletics Rankings and clinched the coveted medal at the World Championships.

The competition with Jena at the Asian Games

Neeraj has been known in the circuit to clinch many medals and break records. However, the 25-year-old javelin thrower is now looking to defend the titles that he has won. This started with his Asian Games medal which he defended at Hangzhou from Jakarta. But another thrower from his country, Kishore Kumar Jena decided to make things interesting for him. Nevertheless, Neeraj was happy as in a recent interview he remarked, “Kishore helped to make a comeback in the game, he pushed me to excel at the biggest stage. He was there with me at the World Championship as well held in Budapest.” Chopra added “I am very happy in the way, Kishore has risen and shown rapid improvements in his game. Earlier when he went for his second attempt, it was given a foul throw; I went there and interrupted that decision.” Chopra’s intervention allowed Kishore to register a legal throw of 79.76 m. 

When the event started, it was anticipated that Neeraj would be able to defend to title with ease. Naturally, he started in that way of 82.38 m. However, Kishore threw a surprising throw of 81.26 m. Then, Neeraj achieved a distance of 84.49 m which Jena overcame with a throw of 86.77 m. This put Jena in the medal contention. To overcome that deficit, Neeraj threw a season-best throw of 88.88 m which almost put him at the gold medal position. His place was cemented when Jena threw 87.54 m in his last legal throw. Although it was the personal best for Jena, it could only fetch him the silver medal. However, Neeraj is a true sportsman and walked around the entire stadium with Jena and the tricolour at the back. In the interview, Neeraj said, “Jena told me that he was happy to see the tricolour everywhere.” The relay team had also won gold and the two javelin throwers celebrated with the sprinter. When asked about the podium finish in Paris, Neeraj said, “I hope that India will be at the podium in all three positions in Paris; we will work hard towards that.”

I am happy that the scenario of javelin has improved in Asia and beyond: Neeraj

One of the main areas that Neeraj reiterated was the meteoric rise of javelin in the Asian scenario. “I am happy at the improvement that Asia has shown in recent years. This includes the improvement in the women’s categories as well. Earlier, in the world championships, we saw how Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi won the gold medal. Likewise, from India throwers like Manu have come onto the scene,” he said. Chopra remarks that the growth of the sport has actually shifted the momentum from Europe to Asia. Even though acclimatization to various time zones and weather conditions remains a challenge for athletes, in the modern era due to sophisticated training it is possible to keep a busy calendar year. For India, Neeraj gives credit to the TOPS scheme, JSW, Go Sports and Reliance who have time and again invested in the Olympic sports. This has also created a difference in the attitude of the athletes.

In the end, when asked about his Paris preparations, he said, “Strategies will be different from Tokyo.” Neeraj also hopes to break the ‘90 m’ mark at the Olympics. Additionally, Chopra hopes to have an epic showdown with his Pakistani counterpart Arshad Nadeem at the finals. As the final comments, Neeraj urged everyone to pick up any sports in the routine and develop a ‘sports culture’ in the everyday routine.

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