Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – Neeraj Chopra became India’s first javelin champion at the Commonwealth Games and joined the country’s small band of athletics gold medallists with a mighty throw of 86.47m on Saturday.
The 20-year-old said staying relaxed was the key after he won by nearly four metres from Australia’s Hamish Peacock, after Kenya’s ex-world champion Julius Yego failed to make the final.
With his surprise win, Chopra becomes only the third Indian man to win athletics gold at the Commonwealths, after Milkha “Flying Sikh” Singh in 1958 and Vikas Gowda in 2014.
“I don’t remember which throw it was. I tried to get my personal best but I got my season best,” he said, after falling just 1cm short of his best throw yet.
“I’ve tried to enjoy myself here and not focus on any negatives, like ‘I don’t like this and I don’t like that’. You definitely get distracted by that,” added Chopra.
Chopra’s gold was among a number of Indian successes on the final day of full competition, following Mary Kom’s boxing win and Sanjeev Rajput’s victory in the 50m rifle three positions.
“I’ve been totally relaxed here, I’ve enjoyed myself. Most of the time people put too much pressure on themselves before the competition, thinking about food and sleeping and what not,” said Chopra.
“I tried to be natural because I was completely confident in how I’ve prepared myself.”
As competition continued on Saturday, India had 21 gold medals to lie third on the overall table, behind hosts Australia and England.