Jakarta: Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra sent his spear piercing through Jakarta’s humid air to a personal best distance of 88.06 metres to give India its second gold medal from track and field events as medals came in a bounty from athletics at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on Monday.
This was the fourth title of worth Neeraj snapped up after coming into limelight at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 2016. Asian Championship gold the next year in Bhubaneshwar and Commonwealth Games gold in Gold Coast this April established Neeraj as the most promising javelin thrower to rise from this part of the continent.
India continued its march towards bettering the ‘best-ever’ mark set at the 2014 Incheon Games, but with only handful of events left, it will take some task from the Indian contingent to match the total number of medals won in Korea.
At Incheon, India’s tally was 11 gold, 10 silver and 36 bronze medals, while at the end of Monday’s events the medal tally in Jakarta stood at 8-13-20.
With only one bronze medal coming India’s way all through Monday when Saina Nehwal lost her women’s singles semifinal, it was left to the athletes to give further push to the medal tally.
Hurdler Dharun Ayyasamy ran the race of his life to clock 48.96 seconds to win silver medal in the Men’s 400 metres to break the ice for India before Neeraj took over the mantle and came up with the gold medal.
“I had been working hard and I thought I will make a record here at the Games but because of the higher trajectory I couldn’t make the distance but I broke the national record so I am happy,” said Neeraj Chopra soon after winning the gold.
Neeraj will now be looking at two crucial years ahead of 2020 Olympics.
“I never thought that I had won the gold after my first throw. But I thought I could improve. It has happened to me once and you never know when someone beats you in his last throw. I was serious from the first throw and I was trying keep my concentration level till my last throw,” is how he explained the way competition spread out over 13 throwers.
Interestingly none came close to his worst throw, which is good in a sense but Neeraj will take that as a learning.
Neeraj aims at 90
After becoming the first Indian javelin thrower to win an Asian Games gold, Chopra said he could’ve breached the 90m mark. In what wasn’t a very competitive field, the 20-year-old bettered his own national record. His previous best was 87.43m, which he threw at the IAAF Diamond League in Doha before coming here.
Consistency has been the hallmark of Chopra’s season. He has thrown 85m plus seven times, and all top Asian throws have been in his name.
Three silvers for India
There was plenty of silver to celebrate as well, all of it coming from the athletics arena. Sudha Singh (women’s 300m steeplechase), Neena Varakil (women’s long jump) and Dharun Ayyasamy (men’s 400m hurdles) came second in their respective events.
Ayyasamy clocked 48.96 seconds to shatter his own national record and finish behind Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba who won the gold with a Games record time of 47.66.
Neeraj Chopra’s Throws
Attempt 1 83.46m
Attempt 2 x
Attempt 3 88.06m
Attempt 4 83.25m
Attempt 5 86.36m
Attempt 6 x