Manu seeks bigger distance ahead of Paris Games

What seems heartening is that Manu is the third javelin thrower who will be joining Neeraj and Kishore Jena at the Paris Olympics. This is the first time that three Indians will be competing in an event.
Indian javelin thrower DP Manu.
Indian javelin thrower DP Manu.Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR: Amid the hullabaloo of Neeraj Chopra at the Kalinga Stadium on Wednesday, one can be forgiven for missing DP Manu’s performance in the same event. The lanky javelin thrower, back from a stint in South Africa, looked relaxed in his run-up. The stadium was chanting Neeraj’s name but Manu was the first thrower of the event. Yet, when he ran and threw the javelin, there was balance and poise. The spear flew to 82.06m. This remained the best mark until Neeraj overhauled it.

Neeraj managed 82m in his first throw but it wasn't until the fourth, when he changed his costume and post some stretching, did he manage to overtake Manu’s 82.06m. Even after the throw, what seemed interesting was that Manu was oblivious to the fact that Neeraj overtook him. He thought he had beaten Neeraj. Only when he spoke to his coach did he realise that he was second. “He did not notice that Neeraj had overtaken him,” said his coach, Kashinath Naik.

“Manu thought he had won the event,” said his coach.

“He was throwing well and said that 'Neeraj bhai ka body thik se nehi chal raha hai' (Neeraj’s body was not responding well),” the coach continued.

Manu felt this was the moment when he could beat Neeraj. For champions, winning becomes addictive; almost a habit. No matter what their personality trait is, they hate losing. Neeraj is no different.

Manu had not done well in the Indian Grand Prix I in Bengaluru. Though he finished on top with 81.91m, his coach felt he could have done well. “That is the positive,” said Kashinath.

“Before coming to the competition, he was not doing well. This can create a mental block in the athlete. Now he had a consistent series of three 80+ in his four throws. This will help him ease his mental block.”

Kashinath said that Manu felt that he could have thrown better if pushed a bit harder by Neeraj. “Anyway, it was a good experience for him to compete against Neeraj.”

What seems heartening is that Manu is the third javelin thrower who will be joining Neeraj and Kishore Jena at the Paris Olympics. This is the first time that three Indians would be competing in an event. Manu is 12th on the Road to Paris ranking. But Manu is looking to attain the automatic qualification distance.

“We are hoping to touch the automatic qualification mark (85.50m),” the coach added. As of now, Manu is planning to compete in an event in Taiwan later this month.

“The federation has said that we should go and compete in Taiwan later this month and hopefully we will be able to reach the automatic qualification mark,” he said.

Kashinath said the training at Potchefstroom’s North West University High Performance Centre was quite good. This was the first time Manu had trained abroad and he felt good. The exposure would help. 

The conditions at the stadium were not ideal. Even Neeraj had said that it was challenging but as an athlete, one has to adjust. There was no wind and it was hot and humid inside the stadium. Manu’s coach is hoping he will do well in more favourable conditions.

“He has a personal best of 84.35m and if he throws well, he can breach this,” he said. That is their next target.

Indian javelin thrower DP Manu.
Neeraj Chopra strikes gold in first competition on Indian soil in three years

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