Javelin’s Next Gen: Yashvir Singh follows in Neeraj Chopra’s footsteps

India’s latest entrant in the 80m club, javelin thrower Yashvir Singh’s father Rai initially didn’t want his son to pursue athletics. When Yashvir was around 12, the family moved from Bhiwani to Delhi so that he could be admitted to a private school and progress academically.

“Someone told me that the school produced a lot of CBSE toppers so we sent him there,” says Rai. But Yashvir not only failed to make progress but barely cleared his exams. Both Yashvir and his father were convinced it was time to return to what he was good at – sports.

“Padai hui nahi, aur sports toh khun mein heen hai. (He couldn’t do much in academics but he’s got sports in his genes),” says Rai, a former national-level athlete who is now a coach.

Yashvir, who breached the 80m mark at the Indian Grand Prix last month, belongs to the new crop of talent. Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra, who is now 24, is at a different level altogether. He breached the 80-mark when he was just 17 back in 2015. With Shivpal Singh (personal best 86m) and Davinder Singh (84.57m) having their run-ins with dope suspensions, the focus has shifted to the younger crop – Sahil Silwal, Rohit Yadav, DP Manu and Yashvir.

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“It is really a great thing for javelin throw in India. You really need good competition to bring out the best in you. Off the field, we all are really good friends but on it, we are fierce competitors,” says Yashvir who recorded his personal best of 82.13m just a fortnight ago in Bhubaneswar.

Yashvir with father Rai Singh

Yashvir first came into limelight when he rewrote Neeraj’s U- 20 Fed Cup meet record last year with a 78.68m throw. He was distraught at missing the 80m back then.

“Breaching the 80m mark was very important to me,” Yashvir says as his father shakes his head in disapproval. Coach Rai, who has higher expectations from his son, dismisses 80m as “just a number”.

“I recently got a call from someone congratulating me for Yashvir’s entry into the 80m club. But it’s no big deal,” says the hard taskmaster.

When Yashvir realised that academics weren’t his cup of tea, he returned to Jaipur where his Railways employee father is now settled. “I initially played basketball just to get fit and then started off with a bamboo javelin. Once I picked up the technique, I switched to a standard javelin,” he says.

‘Nothing special’

Yashvir and his father don’t like to complicate things. The duo believes in a simple motto: “hard work yields results”.

“There is nothing special in our training. We spend a lot of time training, and eat right. When I was an athlete, I made a lot of mistakes and I just ensure that my son doesn’t go down the same road,” says Rai.

Yashvir says his father is a touch “harsh” during training and doesn’t hold back in giving him an earful when he errs. “Bahut gali padti hai. (He scolds me a lot). But that’s only during training and only for practice. Otherwise, he never yells at me for anything. He’s a very nice person,” he says while exchanging a quick glance with his father sitting next to him.

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Rai admits he’s a tough taskmaster but feels his son needs a dose from time to time. “I have to do it. I have to correct my son. He couldn’t do well in academics and now sports is the only option he has and we can’t be lax in any way.”

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Yashvir feels his arm strength and explosive release set him apart from other throwers. “I also have a good run-up, good release angle,” he adds. Any weak areas? “None,” he replies with a cheeky smile.

“He needs to improve his throwing speed,” his father adds quickly.

Having already made the cut for the Commonwealth Games, Yashvir is now targeting a throw close to 85 metres (qualification mark for the World Championships) at the Interstate Meet.

“It (85m) isn’t a huge thing. We have been training well and I am pretty confident. Maybe I will land that mark here in Chennai itself,” he says.

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