Neeraj Chopra hopes to see fans at Tokyo Olympics

The Indian javelin ace believes having fans at major competitions help athletes take their performance a notch higher.

By Naveen Peter

With the organisers of the Tokyo Olympics working hard on ensuring that Tokyo 2020 is open for spectators, Indian javelin thrower, Neeraj Chopra, hopes that he will get to compete in front of the fans when he gets there.

“It will be great if we have fans backing us,” Neeraj Chopra told Olympic Channel. “I think (having fans) matters a lot.

If you notice, most of the throwers love to be aggressive. And that usually comes from the crowd. Having spectators help you in pushing yourself a few notches higher. Be it their chants, or them clapping, wo extra josh aa jata hai (it gives you that extra push).”

The Indian javelin ace believed that on-field support is, in particular, crucial when the competition goes down to the wire.

“Yes, an athlete is in his zone when he’s competing. At that moment, none of the crowd or anything around matters to him. He’s focused on getting his throw right,” Neeraj, an Asian Games champion, said.

“For me, the crowd usually pushes you to go for that extra bit that’s often needed to succeed at the biggest stage. If I need to dig a bit extra for that medal or the gold, and you’re exhausted, it’s often the spectators that push you on.”

Back at his training base in Bhubaneswar, Neeraj Chopra is ensuring that he stays in top form building-up to the Games. Be it the high-intensity workouts that he’s switched to or the multiple throwing sessions, the 23-year-old is keen on fulfilling his New Year’s resolution -- breaking the 90m mark.

“That’s (90m-mark) become the new benchmark these days. First, it used to be 70 metres, then it became 80, and now everyone is targeting 90. Those who have achieved this mark are counted among the top throwers,” Neeraj pointed out.

“However, during competitions, my focus remains only on giving my 100 per cent and not on the distance. I reckon that if I remained consistent during competitions, the 90m-mark won't be difficult to achieve.”

Neeraj Chopra’s last throw in competition measured 87.86 metres, which helped him make the Olympic cut. The Indian’s personal best stands at 88.06m.