Neeraj Chopra
The 24-year-old had become only the second Indian athlete to win a medal at World Championship, after Anju Bobby George | File Photo

Back to training, Neeraj Chopra targets breach of 90-m mark next

An Olympic gold medal already in his pocket, star Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has his eyes set on breaching the 90-m mark, which he feels will get him an entry in the list of world’s best throwers.

Chopra, who clinched the historic gold with a throw of 87.58m in his second attempt at the Tokyo Olympics, has been eyeing the coveted 90m for quite some time now. His personal best is 88.07m.

“Medal is one thing, distance is another. Crossing the 90m mark will put me in the list of the world’s best throwers,” Chopra said during a virtual media interaction. “I am close to it and can hit the mark soon, but I don’t think about too much. But there is no pressure on me, and I think that if I don’t reach the mark then there will be any problem,” he added.

The 24-year-old is confident that the mark is around the corner and certain tweaks in his technique will help him achieve his goal.

“The gap is of about 2m. It’s not too less also but I don’t think it is impossible because my training is good. I don’t think about it much but it’s a barrier that I would like to breach this year. No major changes in my technique, I will need to improve what I am already doing. I will also look to work on explosive strength, core strength and speed, as these factors will add up and the distance will be covered,” Chopra said.

Also read: With Olympic gold in his kitty, Neeraj Chopra now eyes World Championships

Chopra, who had ended India’s 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics, revealed that he had gained over 10kg 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 12-13 kgs,” he said.

Chopra had decided to end his 2021 season after the Olympics, but having returned to training at Chula Vista in USA, the 2018 Commonwealth gold medallist is back to his off-season weight.

“I’ve been training for about 22 days now and have cut down 5.5 kgs so far, and now my weight is close to the off-season weight. The initial few 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 am training hard now so that I can get to javelin-specific training soon,” Chopra said.

Chopra, also a junior world champion, is now bracing up for a packed 2022 calendar that includes the Commonwealth and Asian Games, World Championship and the Diamond League.

Chopra’s competition will be tough, as there are a lot of athletes who have already thrown javelin above the 90m mark.

Athletes from the junior (Worlds) like Anderson Peters from Grenada are also nearer to the 90m mark.

“Johannes Vetter is also giving a good performance. So, competitions will be very tough. We will see when the season starts what happens,” Chopra said.

Asked what changes can be brought to the Indian sporting system to make it better, the Olympic gold medallist said that international exposure is a must for elite athletes who are doing well and also those who are coming up.

“I feel the upcoming athletes should also get international exposure, experience of playing among the best athletes. Once they play with them then they can think at that level, they will get motivated after looking at their competitors,” Chopra said.

Also read: Chopra dedicates gold to Milkha Singh. His next target? Cross 90-m mark

To promote javelin throwing amongst children, Chopra feels it imperative that a coach for guidance and equipment is made available.

“For kids who are coming in now, facilities should be increased in normal grounds. Javelins should be provided because its an expensive equipment and a coach for guidance. This I feel will change a lot of thing in the future,” Chopra said.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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