Grand Prix athletics: Javelin thrower Annu keen to book Olympic spot (Credit AFI media). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, March 5 : After setting a national record of 88.07 metres during the third leg of Indian Grand Prix on Friday in Patiala, Neeraj Chopra exuded confidence of breaking the 90-metre barrier before the Tokyo Olympic Games in July.

"That's the target [of breaking the 90m barrier] I've set for myself. With a couple of high quality international exposure trips, I should be able to achieve my goal," said the 24-year-old athlete in the post media interaction.

In January, the talented Army thrower had hurled the javelin to a distance of 87.86m during a local competition in South Africa. It was better than the Tokyo Olympic qualification mark of 85m.

"I was competing after a long layoff due to elbow injury on the throwing arm. But qualifying for the Olympics was a big advantage as I hadn't trained hard," he said.

Chopra said that although his current performance of 88.07m is only a marginal improvement on his previous best of 88.06m, recorded in 2018, it is a big motivating factor.

"As the Olympics are just four months away, crossing 88m is a good sign. The last one year has been very challenging as we couldn't train on expected lines for three-four months due to the Covid pandemic. The stadiums were closed. We weren't allowed to train outside from March to May. Given the tough situation we faced in the last 13 months, the performance is satisfying because it's the first competition after a long gap," he said after setting the national record.

The Army thrower says he had trained hard since November and was expecting a good result.

"During warm up throws I felt strong. I was hopeful of going past 85 metres. But there was a cross wind. It was a bit of a worrying factor. I changed the javelin in the fifth throw and it was a good release. The spear sailed to a distance of 88.07m. It made my day," thrower from Haryana.

The plan for the Tokyo Olympics, said Chopra, is to compete in Diamond League.

"It would give me a psychological edge when I compete in the Olympics. Seeing the same familiar faces will act as if I'm competing in an ordinary event and not a major competition like the Olympics," he said.

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