Neeraj Chopra at Asian Games: He's already won it all, does he have the hunger for more?


If athletics were a video game, Neeraj Chopra has completed every level of it: Olympic, World, Asian, Diamond League and Commonwealth champion. And now he's set to repeat the cycle, starting in Hangzhou.

He comes into the Asian Games as India's first athletics World Champion; he also went on to become the first Indian to not just win but retain his Diamond League title.

When is Neeraj's event?

The men's javelin final (there's no qualifying stage) is on October 4, from 4:35pm IST.

How has Neeraj's form been in 2023?

He's chosen his events carefully this year to prevent aggravating the groin niggle that's been troubling him, and it seems to have paid off.

He began the year by winning Diamond League events in Doha [88.67m] and Lausanne [87.66], before clinching the big one at the World Championships. He threw a season's best of 88.77m in the qualifying round and his 88.17m throw was enough to win him the gold in the final.

And three days after his Worlds campaign, he threw 85.71m to finish second at the Zurich Diamond League. Two weeks later, he finished second in the Diamond League final.

How did Neeraj fare at the 2018 Asian Games?

Neeraj was the medal favourite back in 2018 as well as he had just won the Commonwealth Games earlier that year.

He was miles above his competition in Jakarta, winning gold with an 88.06m throw in his third attempt. It was nearly 6m beyond China's Liu Qizhen's effort for silver, while Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem finished with bronze [80.75m].

Who are Neeraj's main competitors at the 2023 Asian Games?

Neeraj's main competitor would have been a familiar face: Arshad Nadeem. However, there are reports that the Pakistani has pulled out due to a knee injury.

Neeraj and Nadeem go back a long way, sharing the podium at the 2018 Asian Games as well as the 2023 Worlds. Nadeem became the first South Asian to cross the 90m mark when he threw 90.18m to win the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

He underwent elbow surgery last year and has competed in only one event this year - the Worlds. And he won silver with an 87.82m attempt, the fourth-best throw in the world in 2023.

Neeraj will also face competition from the two Japanese throwers - Yuta Sakiyama and Roderick Genki Dean - and the two Chinese - Haoran Hu and Heqing Niu.

Also in the field is Kishore Kumar Jena, among India's most consistent throwers this year. He finished fifth in his maiden World Championships appearance last month with a personal best of 84.77m.