Neeraj Chopra prefers Olympic gold over 90-metre throw

Indian javelin thrower wants to retain his title during Paris Olympics

By Web Desk
May 13, 2024
Chopra was also backed to win the gold once again this year at the Olympics by his coach. - AFP

India's star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra wants to join the 90-metre club but retaining the Olympic gold is his priority even if it means a shorter throw in Paris, his coach told Reuters.

Chopra came into the limelight three years ago when he threw 87.58 metres in Tokyo to secure independent India's maiden Olympic gold medal in athletics.

The 26-year-old’s personal best (PB) is 89.94 metres in 2022, which came at the Stockholm Diamond League.

"A medal is more important than a mark. The mark increases almost every year, but the medal stays," Chopra’s coach Klaus Bartonietz told Reuters from Doha.

"Nobody asks Neeraj how far his throw reached in Tokyo. It was 87.58 and it was enough. If it's 85 metres and still gets you an Olympic gold, you should be okay with it."

Bartonietz admitted that the pressure of Olympics makes it difficult for athletes to produce personal bests.

The 90 metre-mark has been surpassed only three times in Olympics out of a total of 125 such throws.

"I'd be happy if Neeraj can produce his PB in Paris. It should be enough," Bartonietz said.

"It's one thing to throw 90 metres, and a totally different thing to do it in the most important competition in a four-year cycle."

Chopra was also backed to win the gold once again this year at the Olympics by his coach.

"I'd say he's close to the mark," the German said.

"For several years, he has been throwing 87-to-high 88s consistently ... It will be nice to join the 90-metre club of throwers."

Chopra finished in second place at the Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday, which was two centimetres behind Jakub Vadlejch's winning throw of 88.38m, to start his season.

Bartonietz is looking to ensure that Chopra is in good shape before the elusive event and not "mess it up at the most crucial time".

"If you allow yourself to be under pressure, it may break you. More than anything else, he knows what not to do to get the best out of himself," the German said.