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Asian Games champion Neeraj happy with season's showing

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 06, 2018 08:57 IST
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'Didn't realise was flanked by Chinese and Pakistani athletes on victory podium.'

Neeraj Chopra of India in action during the Javelin Throw final at the Asian Games 

IMAGE: Neeraj Chopra of India in action during the Javelin Throw final at the Asian Games. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

It was quite a moment at the Asian Games when Indian gold-medallist Neeraj Chopra stood flanked by a Chinese and a Pakistani on the podium in Jakarta.

But the star javelin thrower says it didn't even strike him as he was consumed by the national anthem.

Chopra broke the national record with a throw of 88.06m, while China's Liu Qizhen (82.22m) and bronze to Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem (80.75m) were distant second and third respectively in Jakarta.


At the medal ceremony, it made for a moment given the often volatile diplomatic dynamics between the three countries.

The picture of Chopra shaking hands with Nadeem on the podium went viral on social media with tennis star Sania Mirza tweeting that it showed why sports is the "best education you can provide your child with."

"Teaches you sportsmanship, equality, respect and most importantly humanity! If only some people can learn this from our champion athletes too," she had tweeted.

"I did not realise (at that moment) that I was standing with them. Seeing the tri-colour and with the rendering of the national anthem, I was filled with emotion, remembering the struggle and hard work I have done to reach this stage," Chopra told PTI from his training base in CzechRepublic.

The 20-year-old became the first Indian to win a javelin throw gold in the Asian Games, adding another feather to his cap after finishing on top at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in a phenomenal season.

"Sports always teaches us to unite people, to be good towards your competitors. Sports is not meant to show hatred to others," he said.

Nadeem had later claimed that Chopra was not particularly forthcoming when he tried to reach out to him through Whatsapp messages.

India's Neeraj Chopra and Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem greet each other on the podium at the Asian Games last week 

IMAGE: India's Neeraj Chopra and Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem greet each other on the podium at the Asian Games last week. Photograph: The Bridge/Twitter

Asked about this, Chopra said, "I am not aware of any face to face approach from him (Nadeem). If somebody tries to speak or wants to ask something behind my back, I would not know. If he had sent some messages on my phone, I would not know. I don't see so many messages."

The 88.06m throw in Jakarta has taken him closer to his aim of going beyond the magical 90m mark but Chopra said the gold medal is as significant as the one he fetched in the Gold Coast CWG.

"I cannot choose between the two, both are significant and I am happy about that. The CWG effort was also a national record of that time, it was more than my junior world record throw for the first time and also the first gold of a major multi-sporting event.

"In Jakarta, it was a bigger throw of over 88m and I am really happy to have done that distance. But I will not choose one over the other."

In the prestigious Diamond League Final in Zurich where he competed three days after the Asian Games campaign, Chopra missed the bronze by a whisker as reigning Olympic champion Thomas Roehler of Germany pipped him by a mere three centimeters with his final throw.

"I was about to win the bronze as I was third till the final round but Roehler pushed me down to fourth with his last throw. He is an Olympic champion and a big shot in javelin world," said Chopra who had a best throw of 85.73m.

"It's all right, I will work harder and try to win next time. I was competing with the best in the world and I am satisfied with that fourth-place finish.

"I am happy that I have been consistent the whole season, throwing over 85m in almost all events. I will now work harder to improve my performance," said Chopra, who will wind up his international season after taking part in the IAAF Continental Cup at Ostrava in CzechRepublic on September 8 and 9.

He will compete along with six other Indians, as part of the Asia-Pacific team.

Europe, Americas and Africa are the other teams.

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