One of India's best bets for an athletics gold at the upcoming Asian Games, Neeraj Chopra is determined to focus on the job at hand and not put extra pressure on himself. "It is a great honour for me to lead the Indian contingent and carry the country's flag at such a prestigious event. As far as my preparations for the Asian Games are concerned, I want to say that I am not thinking about any medal or rank, all I want to do is give my best there," Neeraj said in a statement on Thursday.
"These three-four months in Europe have been very productive and I got a chance to compete in a lot of competitions in between. I am feeling good and as I said, my only target is to give my best in Jakarta," he added.
Neeraj will lead the Indian contingent at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games.
The 20-year-old has top class credentials by virtue of being the first Indian to win a gold medal at a World Championships. This came courtesy his victory at the 2016 World Youth Championships. But Neeraj has continued with his feats in the javelin throw.
In 2018, Neeraj has maintained his fine form, consistently throwing the javelin beyond the 85m mark this year and also has set a new national record of 87.43 at the Doha Diamond League in May.
In fact, the five best throws by an Asian athlete this year are all in his name. He has no shortage of titles too. The most significant of these was the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in Australia which made Neeraj only the first Indian javelin thrower to win that competition.
Neeraj will however not be overconfident in Jakarta. Amongst his competitors is Chinese Taipei's Chao Tsun-Cheng who holds the Asian record of 91.36m. However, Cheng has been very inconsistent and has failed to produce his best throw when it has mattered most.
At the Asian Championships last year, there had been great expectations from Cheng but he only managed to take sixth place with an effort of 80.03m. At that competition, it was Neeraj who had romped to the gold medal with a throw of 85.23m.
While Neeraj will be bidding for gold, his compatriot Shivpal Singh could also get on the podium. Singh qualified for the Asian Games with a throw of 82.28m at the Inter-State Championships. That mark leaves him in fourth place this year amongst Asian throwers.