Neeraj Chopra can throw close to 90m this year: world champion Johannes Vetter

 The list of Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra's admirers has grown with reigning world champion Johannes Vetter predicting a bright future for the Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

Neeraj Chopra can throw close to 90m this year: world champion Johannes Vetter
Reuters

New DelhiThe list of Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra's admirers has grown with reigning world champion Johannes Vetter predicting a bright future for the Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

After winning gold at Gold Coast Games with his second career-best throw of 86.47m, the 20-year-old Neeraj has said that he would like to join the '90m club' soon.

"He (Neeraj) is really young. He is able to throw between 88 and 90m, this year of course," Vetter, who has a personal best of 94.44m, was quoted as saying by the 'Olympic Channel'.

Neeraj is competing against Vetter in the season-opening leg of the Diamond League series in Doha. The star-studded field includes Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and Rio Olympics silver medallist Julius Yego of Kenya, besides Vetter.

Neeraj's personal best stands at 86.48m, that won him gold at the U-20 World Championships in 2016 in Bydgoszcz (Poland), which is also the existing world junior record.

Only 18 athletes have ever thrown over 90m, including six who are still in action -- Yego, Vetter, Rohler, Tero Pitkomaki, Andreas Hoffman and Asian record holder Chao Tsun Cheng.

However, none of these stars had inched past 80m in their teens -- a fact that is not lost on Yego.

"It's possible (for Neeraj to throw 90m). He is a great talent and has a great, bright future. He has the qualities of becoming an elite thrower. He already holds the world junior record. He is way ahead of me," said Yego.

If Neeraj, who now trains under world record holder Uwe Hohn, hits 90m, he would be the youngest thrower to go past the javelin gold standard.

A fresh challenger from a 'non-javelin' nation gives his sport a welcome boost of energy, according to Vetter, who competed alongside Neeraj earlier in the season in Offenberg, Germany, where the Indian had a three-month stint before the CWG.

"Javelin is going more and more all over the world. There are a lot of young guys who are trying this and have good potential in Africa, Asia, and I think it is developing each year," said Vetter.