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Neeraj Chopra is a ‘cool cat’, very consistent, he will win the gold, says AFI chief

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Sumariwalla Mumbai, July 2: Olympics, Asian, and World Championships gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is a ‘cool cat’, very consistent, and goes quietly about his job without taking too much pressure, says Athletics Federation of India (AFI) President Adille Sumariwalla about his star athlete’s chances of retaining his gold medal in Paris Olympic Games.

Sumariwalla said whenever he runs into Neeraj and enquires about his preparations and chances, the first Indian to win an Olympic medal tells him not to worry. “He just tells me. ‘don’t worry, I will do it’ when I ask him about his preparations. He is a cool cat, very consistent.

He knows that everyone expects him to win the gold medal in Paris but he will go about his preparations and deliver when it matters most,” Sumariwalla said during a panel discussion about India’s chances at the upcoming Paris Olympics organised by the Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai (SJAM) on the occasion of World Sports Journalists Day on Tuesday. “His strength is his consistency.

There are at least four to five throwers in the world today, throwing over 90 meters, which Neeraj has never done. Everybody keeps putting pressure on Neeraj. We need to understand that the only reason why he’s won the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, and the Olympic Games is simply because of his consistency. “He has never been the number one thrower in the world.

He’s always been, in terms of highest performance that year, number four or five. He’s never thrown over 90 meters. But when it comes to crunch, he will throw his 88.89 meters. Those guys will throw 87 meters. He will win the gold,” said Sumariwalla.

The AFI President, a top sprinter of his time who represented India in two Olympics, said India’s recent success in athletics should not be evaluated in terms of medals but rather the progress we have in the last decade or so.

“I think the Indian athletes will do better than they did at the last Olympics. When I say better, I never talk in terms of medals. I am not an astrologer. I can’t predict metals. You see data and I think you need to go by data. You need to follow a process. Now, what you need to see also is what is the progression that has happened. What is the progression in India? What is the progression approach? “What you also need to understand is in London, 10 athletes qualified. In Rio, 16 athletes qualified, and in Tokyo, 20-odd athletes qualified. More than 30 athletes will qualify for these Olympics.

So you need to see that progression. Not only that, you really need to study how many were in the top eight, how many came to the top six, and how many came in the top four. How many could get medals,” said Sumariwalla, adding that India’s success should be measured in terms of this progress. Sumariwalls, who is also vice-president of World Athletics, the global body of track and field, said they have put in place the processes for the development of elite and grassroots athletes and it is these processes that would get India the medals in the Olympics.

Hockey Olympian and Olympic Gold Quest CEO Viren Rasqinha, former badminton star Leroy D’Sa, chief coach of Indian rifle shooting team Suma Shirur and former India Davis Cupper Purav Raja were the other participants in the panle discussion.

IANS

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