Neeraj CHOPRA biography
India is renowned for its brilliant cricketers, hockey player, badminton player and shooters – but its track and field athletes have rarely made a huge mark on the sport internationally. Chopra, however, is changing all that. The Panipit-born javelin thrower is a sensation.
Chopra won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, where he set a new Indian national record of 88.06m, and was flag bearer at the opening ceremony.
He also won gold at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, was 2016 IAAF World U20 champion, and set the world junior record, of 86.48m. Still just 22, he will travel to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as one of his country’s big hopes for a medal – but whether he makes the podium or not this time around, Chopra is surely one for the future. He will certainly be keen to show what he can do, having missed out on qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as an up and coming young athlete.
He is coming into form as the Games approach. Chopra once again broke the Indian national javelin record in May 2018, at the Doha Diamond League, with a massive throw of 87.43m.
When he’s not competing, Chopra serves as a commissioned officer in the Indian armed forces. He trains with Uwe Hohn, one of the world’s most renowned coaches, in Finland. Chopra is eventually aiming to break the European lock on winning javelin medals.
“It’s mostly the European countries. Earlier there were Finland and the Czech Republic as well, who was doing really well. Now it’s the Germans,” he said. “But things have improved in India as well. If you see this year, Shivpal Singh has done well alongside Vipin Kasana. They have consistently been hitting 80m plus and that is a good sign. I try to be more consistent, with my throws, which helps me a lot.”
And he’s not feeling the hopes of his nation on his shoulders. “I have never taken pressure,” he says. “I have always tried to stay free of pressure, have fun, listen to music, and other such stuff. We train to do well on the big stage.”