My mission is to put the tricolor on the podium
Twenty-year-old Neeraj Chopra Spoke To JSW Sports Ahead Of The 2018 Commonwealth Games At Gold Coast, Where He Hopes To Put Indian Javelin On The World Map...
Among JSW Sports' eight member contingent at the Commonwealth Games is Javelin World Junior and National Record holder Neeraj Chopra. Speaking to us from Gold Coast, the 20-year-old tells us of how for him, the tricolor matters more than the medal.
It feels really good to be at my first Commonwealth Games. I've been to the SAFF Games before, but there are so many more countries participating here and so many more spectators who've come from around the world. I've been at the Games Village in Gold Coast for more than a week now and it feels great to be a part of this atmosphere.
Born and brought up in Khandra, a village near Panipat, Neeraj says that as a 15-year-old he never imagined representing the country, let alone at the Commonwealth Games.
"When I started out, being a part of the district event was a massive thing for me and my family. I never thought that I'd be at the Commonwealth Games or the World Championships. All the hardwork that I put in when I was young has paid off. When I look back I have so many people to thank and doing well in the coming weeks would be one way to repay them."
In the Chopra household though, the air of excitement is the same as it has been for any tournament that their son has been a part of. Neeraj says that his parents know little of the place where he is now, or the magnitude of the occasion he is about to be a part of. "My family is very happy that I'm over here, representing the nation. My father and mother have spent their entire lives in the village of Khandra where I'm from, so they really don't know much about these Games. To them, what matters most is watching the Indian flag above me when I'm standing on a podium. Every time I have the javelin in hand, my mission is to put the tricolor on the podium more than a medal around my neck."
Neeraj spent one month in Offenberg, often known as the Javelin capital of the world, ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and he says that training alongside some of the world's finest throwers has been a great experience. "Germany was a big move because I learned quite a few things. To train alongside Johannes Vetter (World Champion and German Record Holder) and learn new techniques and exercises was a major step ahead of the Commonwealth Games. I must thank the Sports Authority of India, The Athletics Federation of India and JSW Sports for all their support during my time there. JSW Sports has been with me since 2015 and I've improved massively in that time. In 2017, I injured my groin in Zurich during the Diamond League event and it was a really tough moment. But JSW was with me during that phase and all my treatment was taken care of systematically, which is why I am here to participate at Gold Coast. I can't be thankful enough."
Before signing off, Neeraj talks about how he intends to go for his best ever throw at Gold Coast, leaving everything else to destiny. "My aim at Gold Coast is to go for my personal best. I know I have it in me, and when the moment comes, that's what I'm going for. If you think about the big numbers and names, you're competing only against the others. To me, what's important is that I compete against the best I have within me, and try to beat that. Everything else will fall in place. A lot of my friends have called me, sent me messages on Facebook and on Twitter to wish me luck. Just to know that so many people are expecting me to do something is massive for me. When I go out there, I'll be throwing that javelin for all of them."
Neeraj will be in action during the preliminary round of the Javelin event at the Carrara Stadium, at 5:30 am on 13th April, one day ahead of the finals.