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Javelin thrower DP Manu, leading the Neeraj Chopra chasing pack

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Inspired by the Tokyo Olympics gold medallist, Manu has produced an 82.43m throw this season, which will push the new breed for javelin throwers from the country



Javelin thrower DP Manu with coach Kashinath Naik


Javelin thrower DP Manu’s phone has been constantly ringing since he threw a personal best of 82.43m at the Indian Grand Prix I in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, achieving the qualifying mark for the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. The 22-year-old Karnataka thrower has set the tone for the season with two 80-plus throws. He is among the handful of Indian throwers to cross 80m, with Olympic Champion Neeraj Chopra topping that small list with his national record of 88.07m.

Chopra’s Tokyo success has put the spotlight on the other javelin throwers of the country as well. A bunch capable of throwing close to 80m is competing in national meets. Their first target is to cross 80m and then aim for 85m. Manu, in only the second competition this season, has shown the way. Rohit Yadav has also gone past 80m for the first time (80.03m), finishing second in the GP. Sahil Silwal had touched 80.65m last year. All are fighting for Asian Games and Commonwealth Games spots, while the qualifying standard for the world athletics meet in Eugene in July is 85m.

Manu consistently went past 75m last season, with a best of 76.30m. He finished second at the national open meet with 74.92m. In his initial days, Manu used to watch youtube videos of Chopra and Czech javelin great Jan Zelezny to learn the skills. Chopra’s junior world gold in 2016 encouraged him a lot.

“I have followed Neeraj bhai’s career from his junior days. I like the energy and confidence he brings to the field. After his Olympic gold, we are getting support. Kal medal kiya aur aaj kuch sponsors ke phone bhi aa gaya. (I won yesterday, and today I got calls from sponsors),” says Manu.

“I was doing 80 plus in training but was not able to do that in tournaments last year. This year, I have done more work on my technique and got the results. I think as the season will progress, I will improve. Need to do some more work on technique,” he says.

Manu, who hails from Hassan in Karnataka, tried jumps and volleyball in school before javelin happened. “I started in 2014-15. There was no coach. My PT teacher gave me a bamboo javelin and I loved it. Then I started watching youtube videos and spoke to others. There was not much of a technique initially, which I learnt later at ASI (Army Institute of Sports),” he says.

The Indian army havildar trains at the ASI, Pune where former international Kashinath Naik is coach. Naik, the 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, brought him to Army fold.

“He has been training under me in ASI since 2019. He had done well in Khelo India, throwing around 65m. What caught my attention was that he was able to throw such a distance without proper training and any coach. He was tall, had good speed and good reach (hand length 85cm) which is very good for javelin,” says Naik.

Within six months Manu threw 76.24m in the inter-state championships in Lucknow, winning silver. “He has been consistently throwing 75m. In an army trial last year, he threw 78m. This year, the aim was to cross 80m first, which he has been doing in training. He will be able to touch 85m this season.”

Naik says it can be a breakthrough year for javelin throwers. “Chopra has set the standard for all the throwers. They are ready to push themselves. There are five-six throwers in the same range and if they remain consistent they can get past 85m.”

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