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"Neeraj Chopra's Olympic gold has spoilt Indian fans" — What to expect in World Athletics Championships javelin throw final

"The Tokyo Olympics gold has spoilt Indian fans. Neeraj was not expected to win a gold there, but things fell into place and he took advantage."

Neeraj Chopra Rohit Yadav Javelin Throw
Neeraj Chopra and Rohit Yadav at the 2022 World Athletics Championships (Source: Rohitjavelin/Twitter)

Abhijit Nair

Published: 23 July 2022 7:24 AM GMT

For the first time in 39-year-old history of the World Athletics Championships, two Indians will compete in the final of a same event when the Olympic Champion Neeraj Chopra and the young Rohit Yadav will stride out for the men's javelin throw final at the Hayward Field in Eugene on Sunday.

Naturally the expectations are sky high with fans predicting a possible end to India's medal drought at the World Championships, but we should not be carried away believes Michael Musselmann - a well known coach and figure in the Indian javelin circuit.

"The Tokyo Olympics gold has spoilt Indian fans," says Musselmann.

"Neeraj was not expected to win a gold there, but things fell into place and he took advantage. It is natural to have expectations after that result, but we need to understand that a lot of factors - the wind, the conditions and others affect a javelin competition. If Anderson Peters (reigning world champion) is in form and gets a 92m throw early on, the competition could well be over then and there," he cautions.

A Peruvian national who has been working with Indian athletes in grassroots since 2016 with his initiative Indian javelin, Musselmann was one of the earliest people to notice and take under his wings Rohit Yadav - the other Indian in the javelin final.

"You can certainly expect Neeraj to end up on the podium, but for Rohit - if he gets into the final 8, it would be a great achievement," he says.

Playing in his first senior international tournament, Rohit Yadav has defied odds to reach the World Championships Final on his debut at the biannual tournament. This is something which even his much more fancied senior and Olympic Champion could not achieve in 2017.

"Performing on your debut in such a big stage is not easy. Especially when you are rubbing shoulders with Olympic Champions and medallists and you see some of them struggling to perform and crash out of the final," the former coach says about his ward.

Musselmann though does not rule out a surprise performance from Rohit.

"Javelin is a very volatile sport. It's almost very hard to predict a winner. We have seen Olympic gold medal being award at 84m to Keshorn Walcott in 2012, Neeraj won it in Tokyo with just about 87m. So, you do not always need to throw a 90m. If others have a bad day, you can always swoop in though it is unlikely for Rohit," he states.

India can dominate world javelin

India currently has a young bunch of javelin throwers coming up - all of whom are insanely talented. To put things into perspective, India is the best U-23 javelin nation currently with a total of 5 throwers between the age of 20-23 having breached the 80m mark. This is, of course, excluding Chopra who is now 24-year-old.

Much like the entire nation, Musselmann believes that India has the potential to dominate the world of javelin for the next few years.

"It started with Neeraj in the youth section in 2016. Then India had success stories in form of Davinder Kang and Shivpal Yadav. India has always been a throwers' nation and now we have good local coaches as well, which should help the country dominate the world javelin throw in the next few years," he says.

Javelin is similar to cricket

Michael Musselmann attributes this rise of Indian javelin to the nation's favourite sport - cricket.

"Since Tokyo Olympics last year, the craze for javelin in India is on the rise. We have a lot of talented throwers as well, a lot of it has to do with cricket," he says.

"Throwing a javelin is quite similar to bowling in cricket. The movement for bowling in cricket and throwing a javelin is quite similar. The only difference being the fact that in bowling you have to keep the ball low, while javelin you have to release at a certain height with a certain angle," Musselmann, who has been coaching javelin throwers for close to 30 years explains.

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