Javelin throw hasn’t been an arena where India has previously dug gold medals but that might not be the case this time around. Although this is his first stint at the Commonwealth Games, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will be India’s biggest hope for a medal in this year’s CWG starting tomorrow in Gold Coast, Australia. The 20-year-old has already proven his mettle time and again, with the most recent performance coming in the recently concluded Federation cup held in Patiala last month, where he sent the spear to a distance of 85.94m in his 6th attempt, and hence setting a new national record. This was however just centimeters short of his personal best of 86.48m, which is also a world record at the junior level that he achieved in the 2016 World Junior Championships held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, thereby securing his first ever gold in an international event.
This was soon followed by a gold at the 2016 South Asian games held in Shillong where he recorded a throw of 82.23m to secure the first position. His ‘golden-run’ continued in next year’s Asian Athletic Championships held in Bhubaneshwar, where he won a gold medal with a throw of 85.23 m, which was the then national record. This feat also made his then coach, Gary Calvert term him a “once in a generation talent”.
Apart from his continued success at the senior level, what boosts Chopra’s chances of returning home with a medal, are the facts that the Rio Olympic Champion Keshorn Walcott has withdrawn from the games, and Julius Yego the defending champion has had a struggling season so far with a series of disappointing performances. His best throw at 73m this year reflects on the sluggish patch he is going through.
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Chopra was amongst the first to arrive in Australia in a bet to get acclimatized to the weather conditions and the diet there. With the amount of practice he has had, the 20-year-old is pretty confident of performing well in his first Commonwealth stint and wants to make his debut a memorable one. A billion people back home would be hoping he’s able to replicate his performances when he turns up on April 13th for his first matchup.
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