Neeraj Chopra is India's last best hope to secure an athletics medal at the Olympics - Preview, Schedule, Live Streaming and Where to Watch
With a personal and season's best of 88.07, Neeraj Chopra can be expected to be a realistic hope for a medal in athletics at the Tokyo Olympics
Time and time again, Indian athletes have faltered on the biggest stage in the world. There have been a couple of exceptions though. Avinash Sable bettered his national record and even led the pack for a while in Men's 3000m Steeplechase. Unfortunately, he had to see three athletes with timings worse than him qualify for the final because of the format of Heats.
Yesterday, Kamalpreet Kaur finished sixth in the final of Women's Discus Throw. She was the second-best performer during the Heats and produced a performance to be proud of. With that being said, everyone else has been extremely disappointing so far.
Not coming close to the personal best or recording one of the worst performances of the season at a stage as grand as the Olympics is a clear pattern of dissonance among several athletes who have already crashed out of the competition in unremarkable fashion.
As India starts to lose hope that the elusive Olympics medal in athletics will arrive this year, star Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra takes to the field tomorrow to remind everyone to keep their hopes alive for a little while longer.
Even in the buildup, it was widely believed that at the Tokyo Olympics, Neeraj would be India's best shot at securing an Olympics athletics medal. Although Johannes Vetter is the firm favourite for the gold medal, silver or bronze is definitely within Neeraj's grasp and capability.
Neeraj is the first Indian athlete to ever win a World title in the Track and Field event when he became the 2016 World U20 Champion with what was a U-20 world record throw of 86.48m. What was ironic about it is the fact that had he qualified for the Rio Olympics a few months earlier, that throw would've seen him winning bronze.
Neeraj has consistently thrown above 83 this season, failing only once at Karlstad GP. A throw of 83.5 would see him reaching the final with a direct qualification quite comfortably. Neeraj battled injury to bounce back and improve his personal best with a monstrous throw of 88.07 at the Indian Grand Prix 3 in Patiala.
What sets Neeraj apart from his fellow peers competing at this level is probably his elite mentality. Time and time again, Neeraj has embraced the pressure and has shown his steely resolve instead of succumbing to it. This mentality will be his biggest friend as he gears up to the biggest test of his life so far.
Let's take a look at Neeraj Chopra's Olympic Schedule:
Schedule and when to watch:
Men's Javelin Throw Group A Heat – August 4, 5:35 AM IST
Men's Javelin Throw Final (if Neeraj qualifies) – August 7, 4:30 PM
Opponents to look out for:
Johannes Vetter (Germany) – Germany's Johannes Vetter is the favourite to win the gold medal in Javelin Throw at the Tokyo Olympics. He has breached the 90m mark seven times out of 10 performances this year. Vetter's personal best is a massive 97.76 and he holds a distinct advantage over the rest of the field. Vetter had finished fourth in Rio, missing the podium by a narrow margin.
Edis Matusevicius (Lithuania) - Although his season's best is only an 83.53, Edis is more than capable of delivering on the big stages. His personal best is an 89.17 and he'd be looking to secure qualification to the final by getting a throw above 83.50.
Where to watch and Live Streaming:
Those living in India can catch all the live action on the Sony Sports Network. They will also be able to stream the events on Sony Liv provided that they have the subscription.