Chopra says belief key to success in Paris Games


Olympic and world javelin champion Neeraj Chopra said Indian athletes have shown they can compete with the European powerhouses of the event and that the key to success at the Paris Games is maintaining their self-belief.

European athletes had won 15 of the last 16 gold medals in the men’s event before Chopra threw 87.58 metres at the Tokyo Games in 2021 to become the first Asian man to win an Olympic javelin title.

The 26-year-old will defend his crown at the July 26-Aug. 11 Games and will be joined by compatriot Kishore Jena, while DP Manu also has a chance of qualifying for Paris.

The trio were in the finals of last year’s Budapest world championships, where Chopra bagged gold to add to his silver from Eugene, Oregon a year earlier.

 “There was a time when I wasn’t even sure of qualifying for the world championships, but see how times have changed,” Chopra said in an interview with Sports Authority of India (SAI) media.

 “In Budapest last year, we had three Indians (out of the top six) in the finals and that’s made us believe we’re no less than the Europeans, who have dominated world javelin for so long.

 “We have to take this Budapest belief forward and in Paris anything is possible.” Chopra kicks off his outdoor season in the Doha leg of the Diamond League on Friday and will also compete in India for the first time in three years when he takes part in the Federation Cup in Bhubaneshwar from May 12-15. He said he had meticulously chosen his competition schedule ahead of Paris.

 “The entire scenario changes when you arrive at the Games village. The real pressure starts building up then. But I should be prepared,” he added.

 “After Tokyo, I found out how international athletes plan their schedule and choose their training centres so that there’s minimum travel, quicker acclimatisation and proper diet leading up to a major event.”

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