Neeraj Chopra won gold in the men’s javelin at the 2023 World Athletics Championships on Sunday with a best throw of 88.17m, making him the first Indian to win gold at the worlds.
A few hours after the event, he will speak to reporters at a freewheeling press conference. Here are some excerpts from the chat he joined with Athletics Federation of India President Adil Sumariwala:
Worlds are tougher than the Olympics
“It’s a special feeling to win the Olympics and the World Championship. Competition-wise, the World Championship is always tougher than the Olympics. Athletes train very hard for it. I’m most happy with the fact that I won today, and I had two other Indians with me. I am very happy to see how Indian athletics is growing.”
On the GOAT question
The 25-year-old has won everything there is to win – Olympics, World Championships, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Diamond League – he was asked if he is the GOAT in Indian athletics.
“I would never say that about myself. Everyone said that I only had the world championship medal left to win, but I think I still have a lot to improve and I have to do better. I wouldn’t say that about myself, I There is much more to achieve and I will focus on that.
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Neeraj Chopra Legend ������ pic.twitter.com/CpLYuyv1j9
– ESPN India (@ESPNindia) August 27, 2023
Sumariwala, however, had no doubts: “He is someone who has won World Championships, Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Diamond League…it’s a no-brainer.”
Motivation to push yourself now
“As they say, there is no finish line for throwers. No matter how many medals you win, there will always be motivation to throw more. Winning one medal does not mean that we have won everything. Many athletes have won. The same medal multiple times. I have these medals. Will push myself to win again and it will be amazing if more Indian athletes join me on the podium.”
While hitting (or not hitting) the elusive 90 meter mark
“This year, everything went well except for the groin injury. I just let it go [crossing the 90m mark] time. I have been around the 88m mark since 2018 and it came close to 90m last year, but it depends on the day and I don’t know when that day will come. I am just waiting for the day and time. It will come soon.”
“I thought about hitting the 90m mark in between, but now I think winning a medal is more important. There were 90m throwers and I regularly compete against them and I win. [without needing to hit the 90m mark]. I think consistency is very important and I think that gives me confidence in big events.”
Along with consistency, Neeraj considers confidence to be the two pillars of his success. “I think the consistency comes from confidence and not having any major injuries. If I don’t do my best till the last throw, I know I will do it in my last attempt. I did that at the 2017 Asian Championships. In Bhubaneswar and last year at the World Championships in Eugene. Confidence is so important. You need that drive to push yourself.”
over its compatriot competitors
Neeraj’s gold win was not the only historic achievement of the day – for the first time there were three Indians in the final and all finished in the top 6. Kishore Kumar Jena scored a personal best of 84.77m to finish fifth, while DP Manu threw 84.14. Mr. to take the sixth place.
Three of the top six in the world are Indians. How good is it? ���� pic.twitter.com/Rvql34TeGP
– ESPN India (@ESPNindia) August 27, 2023
“I’m very happy for Kishore, who did really well and registered a personal best. Manu also threw well. We made very good marks – having three Indians in the final and finishing in the top 8. Their confidence carries on. It’s good that Kishore is so Claimed personal bests in major events. I think you’ll see a lot more in the future.”
Due to not being fully fit
Neeraj says he was careful throughout the evening to make sure he didn’t strain his groin again. He is battling an addiction strain, which has cut short his season this year.
“My focus was to throw better, even down to my last throw. I was careful about my injury and that was in the back of my mind but I wanted to push at the same time. I’m very happy and hopeful to win the gold. In the next competition and at the Paris Olympics Do better.”
About Arshad Nadeem: Friend and Silver Medalist
“I felt good that Arshad did well. We met after the competition, and he said he was happy that both our countries were doing well. The Europeans were the top athletes earlier and now we both won, it’s good for our country. With him in the Asian Games. I can compete again.”
But whenever Neeraj and Arshad compete, the “India vs Pakistan” narrative takes over.
“It’s a rivalry in itself. I don’t use my mobile phone much before a match, but I did today and saw that it was being marked as an “India vs Pakistan” match. But these European bowlers are dangerous and can do well any time. You One can never see Arshad as a competitor, not even Yakub [Vadlejch, who took bronze] And [Julian] Weber can come around at any time. I think about every thrower until the last throw. The India vs Pakistan angle is good for the competition, but in the global competition I focus on all the athletes.”
About India’s performance in this world
“All Indian athletes did well this time. There were many new faces and the men’s 4x400m relay set a new Asian record. Many new athletes have come and have new hopes. I think we will do well in the next Olympics.”
Among the medal contenders here were long jumper Srishankar Murali and steeplechaser Avinash Sable, both of whom failed to make the finals of their events.
“I spoke to Sreesankar and Avinash. They knew where they fell short and I told them not to be too sad. It’s normal to feel bad when you train so hard for such a big competition.” [and don’t win]. I told them to think about what they lacked here at the World Championships and to train in such a way that they don’t repeat the mistakes. I told them to use this as a source of inspiration and do well going forward.”