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Neeraj Chopra glad to resume ‘simple life of an athlete’

The Tokyo Olympics gold medallist is currently at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in San Diego
Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra during the javelin throw final in Tokyo on August 7.
Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra during the javelin throw final in Tokyo on August 7.
Getty Images

Angshuman Roy   |   Calcutta   |   Published 31.12.21, 02:12 AM

Neeraj Chopra, India’s man with the golden arm, was drowned in a sea of felicitations and inauguration functions post-August 7. The javelin gold medal winner in the Tokyo Olympic Games saw his schedule going haywire, forcing him to end his 2021 season abruptly. Lack of practice and “endless eating” also saw him gaining weight by “12-13kg”.

Now, at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in San Diego, Neeraj is back to training and enjoying the simple life of an athlete.

“My life here (San Diego) is very simple. I have my breakfast by 7.30am and then head to the centre where I train for over two hours. We eat our lunch there and then we return to our apartment to rest and recover,” Neeraj said during a virtual news conference from San Diego in California on Thursday morning.

“We head to training again by 4pm. We finish training and return after dinner. Honestly, I have to put in a lot of effort in training but I am very happy to get back to practising,” he added.

Neeraj, who turned 24 on December 24, said one of  the reasons for him wanting to go abroad was to stay away from invites, which according to him, is a major distraction.

“The shaadi season was on,” Neeraj said smiling.

“You get a lot of invites from family and friends, besides Patiala is really cold these days.

“The weather here is perfect. My only focus is on training, rest and diet. I am back to spending the normal life of an athlete, where you only focus on sports,” he said.

Neeraj was supposed to travel to Potchefstroom in South Africa for training but cancelled his trip and went to San Diego due to the outbreak of the omicron variant of Covid-19.

Weight gain

Neeraj revealed that he had gained weight after the Tokyo Games. “I ate everything I wanted to after I came back from the Olympics, I did not hold back because I was controlling for so long. I had gained close to 12-13kg.”

He said he is back to his off-season weight but it wasn’t easy.

“I’ve been training for about 22 days now and have cut down 5.5kg so far and now my weight is close to the off-season weight.

“The initial days of training were hard. My body would hurt and the workouts felt very difficult. I had to put in a lot of effort. I was always physically tired but I pushed through despite being exhausted. I’m training hard now so that I can get to javelin-specific training soon.”

90-metre mark

Neeraj, who won the gold in Tokyo with a throw of 87.58 metres, will target the 90-metre mark in 2022. “Medal is one thing, distance is another. Crossing the 90m mark will put me on the list of the world’s best throwers. I am close to it and can hit the mark soon, but I don’t think about that too much.”

The gold medallist said he would not go for any changes in his style to breach the 90-metre mark. “No major changes in my technique.

“I’ll look to working on explosive strength, core strength and speed as these factors will add up and the distance will be covered,” he added.

The calendar next year is packed. The Commonwealth and Asian Games, World Championship and the Diamond League. All eyes will be on Neeraj who is aware that competition will be tough.

“Athletes like Anderson Peters (Grenada) and Johannes Vetter (Germany) are doing well. Competition will be very tough.”



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