Fitness Neeraj Chopra’s top priority
Commercial obligations and social commitments took a toll on Neeraj Chopra following his historic Olympic gold. Having “learned” from experience, he plans to do things differently, heading into next season.
Olympic gold medallist javelin thrower Chopra on Thursday achieved yet another historic feat as he became the first Indian to win the prestigious Diamond League Finals title in Zurich. “Last year was a very new experience for me, balancing was difficult, but I learned from last season,” Chopra said during a virtual interaction on Friday.
He vouched he will avoid everything he did in the last off-season, in order to peak at the right time and maintain his fitness. “This time for the few commercial commitments I will give dates in advance. When the training time comes, I will be fully focused on that ... so that the preparation is taken care of well. “I will not rest too much, will start training early, and keep my weight in check by not eating much.” The World Championship silver medallist added, “I started training late after Olympics. The biggest challenge was to regain fitness, I worked on techniques, worked on strength.
“I was very good technically this time. Javelin is a technical event, so it helped me this time.” While he has been consistently throwing in the high eighties, Chopra has yet to cross the 90m barrier, but he is least perturbed by that as he feels winning matters the most.
“I am not disappointed at all, it’s (90m) just a magical mark. It all depends on how you perform on that day, how you handle the situation... If you touch 90m and don’t win, then also it doesn’t matter. “So there is no 90m pressure on me, no disappointment, when it has to happen, it will happen.
“The important thing is World Athletics now takes note of Indian athletes and their performance.” He added, “I want more athletes from India to compete in top tournaments, many teams from other countries were participating in the Diamond League Finals. It will help them in terms of experience too.” Chopra’s excellent run has ensured that Indians now expect a gold medal from him every time he walks out to compete.
Speaking on the pressure of expectations, he said, “The problem is that everyone wants gold. One has to understand from deep within that athletics events involve intense competition. There is plenty of pressure already. “I just give my 100 percent that day. When I won silver in the World Championships, a lot of people had come to me asked ‘why silver this time, why no gold’?
“We have to support our athletes too, and not just focus on the colour of the medal,” the 24-year-old said. Is Neeraj the greatest Indian athlete? “It’s up to the people to judge,” he said.