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Maybe Kishor will get to 90m before me: Neeraj Chopra

New Delhi, April 11 2024-

Tokyo Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra remarked that while he’s often questioned about reaching the 90m throw, he suggested that maybe his compatriot Kishor Jena would achieve the mark before him.

Jena, a rising javelin throw star, won silver with his personal best throw of 87.54m at the Asian Games last year, finishing behind Neeraj who reclaimed the gold. For the first time in the history of the Asian Games, Chopra and Kishore Kumar Jena made it a javelin one-two in Hangzhou 2023.

With his silver-winning throw at Asiad, Jena has breached the Paris Olympic qualification mark of 85.50m.

During the virtual media interaction, when asked about Jena’s resurgence at the international stage and having two Indian Javelin throwers competing at the World level, Neeraj hailed his compatriot and said it would be a dream come true if there were two Indians on the podium at the Olympics.

“It would be a dream come true if we had two Indians on the podium in Paris. Who knows, there might be more than two as well. We already had two on the podium at the Asian Games… but it would be even more satisfying if we had two at the Olympics. I think Jena will be working hard to make that happen. I think he will throw well there.

“Last year, he progressed well from the Worlds to the Asian Games. He’s made a lot of improvement, while I’ve been stuck at 88m since 2018. And since everyone keeps asking me about getting to 90m, who knows maybe Kishor will get to 90m before me!”

After kick-starting his season at the Doha Diamond League meet on May, Neeraj will compete at the Paavo Nurmi Games in June to face a high-quality field of competitors which include the name of Germany’s Max Dehning, who became the youngest javelin thrower to breach the coveted 90m mark earlier this year with 90.20m throw, which is the world-leading mark.

Addressing the prospect of competing against Max, the reigning world champion expressed that it’s nothing new to face off against someone who has thrown 90m. He added that he’s eager for the opportunity to compete against Max.

“When I competed at the Tokyo Olympics and also at last year’s world championships and other events, many athletes had throws over 90m. So, it’s not a new thing to compete against people who have thrown that distance,” he said.

“Like I always said; what matters is what you can throw on that day. I am excited to get a chance to compete against them. The more they throw in competition, the more fun it becomes. When we are competing together, the main factor that determines the winner is who handles the pressure on that day better than the others.

“I will compete with Max at the Paavo Nurmi games. I’ve never competed with him before. He went from throwing 79m straight into 90m. He skipped the 80m page completely,” he added.

Earlier, this year in January, Neeraj met Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer. The two sports icons had exchanged notes about their passions, life experiences, and the shared responsibility of being Switzerland Tourism ambassadors.

Asked about his experience from the meeting and the conversation he had with Federer, Neeraj said, “I wanted to ask him how he had such a long career and played at the top for so long. He said you had to balance what you wanted, and you also had to choose what competition was a priority for you.”

“He said I would have to pick which competitions I took part in. Because if I didn’t train and just competed, I would have a higher chance of injury. That’s one of the reasons I want to play fewer tournaments but at a higher level. Apart from sports, I asked him if he liked Indian food, and he said it’s in his top five cuisines!” (Agency)

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