Neeraj Chopra is India's best bet for an athletic medal in Olympics - PT Usha

The track legend feels that Neeraj will have to raise his game in the Javelin event

By Ashwin Muralidharan
Picture by Getty Images

It is no secret that India are yet to win an Olympic medal in track and field so far in their history.

But India's legendary runner PT Usha knows a thing or two about what it takes to win an Olympic medal in athletics, having come agonisingly close to one at Los Angeles 1984. And the Payyoli Express feels that India's best bet for breaking that duck at Tokyo 2020 is Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra.

Usha, one of the very best middle-distance runners in the world during her heydays, had missed out on a medal by only 1/100th of a second in 1984. She had finished 4th in 400m hurdles after leading the race at one point in time.

She was the one who came closest to an athletics medal for India. The Keralite feels that to win an Olympic medal, a high level of performance is not enough but you also must show consistency.

PT Usha (second from right) missed out on an Olympic medal by just 0.01 seconds at Los Angeles 1984.
Picture by Getty Images

"Getting a medal in athletics at the Olympics is not easy. You have to perform to a very high standard and have consistency. We can expect a medal from only such athletes who have displayed that level of performance on a consistent basis before the Olympics," Usha told Olympics.com.

Neeraj Chopra, the first Indian athlete to win a World Junior crown in 2016, will be participating in his first Olympics and has been in decent form going into the showpiece event.

He threw a personal best, also a national record, of 88.07m in March and will hope to better that throw at Tokyo. Usha feels that if Neeraj can raise his level at the Olympics, a podium finish is certainly within his grasp.

"If we look at it in that sense, I think Neeraj Chopra is our best bet for a medal in athletics. He has thrown 88m recently and has been throwing around 86m of late. His best is 88+ and maybe when his competition raises their game in the Olympics, he might also be able to raise his best. That's the hope," she said.

"I see him as our best hope (for an athletics medal)."

Neeraj Chopra will be looking to live up to those hopes when he takes to the field on Wednesday, August 4, in the men's Javelin throw qualification.

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