India’s lone world record holder athlete—javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra—has joined the Army and feels the satisfaction of being able to financially support his farmer father will enhance his performance.
Chopra, who holds the junior world record in javelin throw, has been appointed a Junior Commissioned Officer by the Indian Army but will be on leave for the time being to train at the national camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Bangalore.
“I have left my regular college studies at DAV College, Chandigarh. Now I will complete my graduation through a correspondence course. I have joined Indian Army as a Junior Commissioned Officer. I completed the formalities in December last year and reported at the headquarters in New Delhi. I am training at SAI Bangalore on leave,” Chopra told PTI in an interview.
“My father is a farmer, mother a housewife and I live in a joint family. Nobody in my family has a government job, so everybody is happy. For me, it is a sort of a relief because now I am able to help my family financially besides continuing with my training,” said the 19-year-old, who hails from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana.
Chopra hurled the spear to 86.48m to set a new junior world record en route the gold medal at the 2016 IAAF World U-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
His effort was better than the bronze-winning throw at the Rio Olympics (85.38m by Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago).
Despite being a junior athlete, that stunning throw in Poland put Chopra at No.11 in the senior rankings of last season.
Chopra, who now trains under Australian coach Garry Calvert, wants to take part in some top level competitions like the Diamond League Meetings before the (Senior) World Championships in August.
“My main target this year is to win a medal in World Championships in London. I want to take part in competitions outside India, in Europe, in Diamond League series. But till now, I have no knowledge whether I am going to take part in the Diamond League before the World Championships.
“Of course, a medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is the target. An Olympic medal is the ultimate aim of any athlete. But before that, I want to win a gold in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games next year also. There is also the Asian Championships in June this year,” Chopra said.
Asked if feels under pressure since creating the world record last year, he said, “I am still young and there is a long way to go. I believe I can be the best in my event as my career progresses.
“I know there are a lot of expectations from me to do well and win medals for the country in international events. But there is no pressure on me. I want to focus on my job only and results will come.”