Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

A day after setting a personal best throw of barely 70cm shy of 90 metres, Neeraj Chopra believes he is only one “nice” throw away from breaking the record.

Returning to competition after a 10-month break, the Olympic gold medalist showed no signs of rust, taking silver with a national record throw of 89.30cm at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Finland, in a field that included four of the year’s top five throwers, including Grenada’s Anderson Peters, Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch, Germany’s Julian Weber, and Trinidad’s Keshorn Walcott.

“I’ve been sensing that I can hit the 90m mark since 2018 and have always felt the throw will arrive soon.” It’s only a question of time, but I can’t predict when. “One throw with a nice angle and in the appropriate direction and ho jayega kaam (the 90m mark will be reached),” Chopra explained.
Chopra is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with the greatest in the profession, but the bar has now been raised significantly. With the exception of the Tokyo Olympics, there has never been so much excitement in India for a javelin competition, with social media blazing with expectation days before the event.

But the 24-year-old has never paid any heed to the attention that has surrounded him. He nearly dismissed any discussion of the pressure that comes with becoming an Olympic champion. “Coming into the event, there was no pressure to be an Olympic champion in my thoughts.” I tackled the tournament in the same manner as I had previously. I gave it my all. During the competition, you must concentrate solely on your throw. Each competition is unique. “It was a fantastic tournament with a world-class field,” he remarked.

Chopra travelled around the country following the Olympics to attend felicitation parties, accept prizes, and meet his commercial commitments.

With so much on his plate off the field, he chose to terminate his season and take a much-needed rest before returning to training in the United States in November. The 2018 Asian and Commonwealth Games winner was well aware that he would not be able to practise peacefully in India. “I’m receiving too many wedding invites in Patiala,” he joked while justifying his decision to train abroad. But he’s back where he belongs, and the first tournament of the season has obviously calmed him down. “It feels great to have started my season with a strong throw since it gives me a lot of confidence for the forthcoming tournaments.”

The strategy is straightforward: I will just concentrate on my technique and strive to throw better. I’m glad I was able to set a personal best and break the national record. “It’s always a good feeling to beat your prior best mark,” he explains.
With the waters tested, Chopra will be confident moving into a busy competitive programme that includes the Kuortane Games on June 18 and the Diamond League in Stockholm on June 30. He will compete in the World Championship in Oregon less than a month after the Stockholm tournament. So far, bronze medalist Anju Bobby Geroge is the only Indian to have won an athletics medal at the Worlds.

“It felt great to be back on the field after such a lengthy time off following the Olympics.” I attempted to keep my head pure and concentrated just on the aspects of my technique that we focused on throughout training. That was all I could think of. My throw was adequate… it wasn’t perfect, but it sufficed. The javelin swung a bit further to the inside, but it was a good result for the work I put in.”

By adele rose

Adele Rose is the senior editor and employee of WGBS Pvt Ltd Digital wing.

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