After becoming just the second Indian ever to win an individual Olympic gold medal, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is targeting a top podium finish at the World Athletics Championships in USA next year.
The World Championships were to be held this year in Eugene, Oregon, in U.S. but were pushed to 2022 after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will now be held from July 15-24, 2022.
"I have already won gold in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and now an Olympic gold. So my next target is winning gold in World Championships," Chopra said during a press conference arranged by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to felicitate him.
Chopra won gold in the javelin throw event at the Olympics with a best throw of 87.58m in the final on Saturday.
"World Championships is a big competition and sometimes tougher than the Olympics. I am not going to be content with this Olympic gold and sit on this laurel. I would like to do even better and win gold again in Asian Games, CWG and again in Olympics.
"That is the medal which is with Anju madam and I want to win it," said Chopra, referring to Anju Bobby George, who won a bronze in the 2003 World Championships in Paris in the women's long jump.
The 23-year-old superstar also felt that his inclusion in the national camp by AFI in 2015 despite finishing fifth during the National Games in Kerala was a turning point in his career.
Before joining the national camp in early 2015, he was training at Tau Devi Lal Stadium at Panchkula after shifting from Shivaji Stadium in Panipat.
"We did good training but the facilities, equipment, diet were not that good (at Panchkula), but once I joined the national camp (at NIS Patiala) everything changed.
"I got better facilities, better diet and equipment only after joining national camp. And the most important thing is the feeling that I am training along with the best javelin throwers of this country. That is a different feeling.
"So, joining the national camp changed my career and I want to thank the AFI for that." After joining the national camp, Chopra also credited bio-mechanics expert Klaus Bertonietz for his display in Tokyo.
"His (Klaus') training plans were good and suited me. He plans training according to the body of the athlete, he has also worked with a lot of athletes in different countries." Asked if he now realises the magnitude of his feat, Chopra said, "I wasn't believing that I have won gold. I was asking myself whether this is a dream but I realised that the gold medal is with me. So this is not a dream."
Chopra said he will have to make changes in the angle of releasing the javelin to be able to cross the 90m mark.
"90m mark is my dream and I will have to work with my coach to achieve that. I wanted to do it this year but Olympic gold is there, the most important thing." Talking about German superstar Johannes Vetter, who came to Tokyo as the gold medal favourite but failed to make the top eight in the final, Chopra said, "He is my good friend. He couldn't do well in the Olympics but he is still a very good javelin thrower.
"He has six-seven 90m plus throws this year and his best was near the world record of Jan Zelezny. I respect him a lot and I asked my countrymen to respect him."