Athletics

Missed natural feeling of being in world-class event but staying positive for Tokyo, says Neeraj Chopra

Neeraj Chopra. File   | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

Touted as one of India’s strongest bets for an Olympic medal, star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Sunday said his build-up to the Games has been quite challenging given the lack of competitive exposure but he is trying to stay positive for the big event.

Chopra said he has missed the “natural feeling” of being in a world-class field, except for one occasion, in the run up to the Games which open on July 23.

That one time was the Kuortane Games event in Finland on June 26 where he won a bronze with a performance of 86.79m in a star-studded field comprising, among others, Olympics gold favourite German Johannes Vetter, who won the event with a massive throw of 93.59m.

“I had a new experience in Finland. During the run-up, I felt the real experience of a top-level competition, the kind of natural feeling which gives you the best performance comes after you take part a lot of world class events,” Chopra said from his training base at Upsala, Sweden during an online interaction.

“For me, that was the only time,” he added.

Talking about the challenges that came with the restrictions that came into force because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chopra said he has tried to stay positive nonetheless.

“I did not get good international competitions when I wanted and there had to be several changes in training and competition schedule.

“But, I am in positive frame of mind because a lot depends on the performance of the day. I am just hoping to give my best and realise my dream of winning a gold for the country.” Chopra, who has pulled out of the June 13 Diamond League at Gateshead due to visa issues, has taken part in only three international events since June 10.

He won’t participate in competitions anymore before travelling to Tokyo on July 26.

“Getting the UK visa (to take part at Gateshead) was difficult for Indians due to COVID-19 situation in India. So, I decided to miss the Diamond League. There is no time for competition now.

“I can have some intensity training for another week. After that I will have light training.” He said he was focusing on improving his technique.

“The performance in Finland was also not my best, there were technical issues, the height of the javelin was an issue. My javelin could not reach the venue that day and I could not use it. I had to use another javelin.

“At the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, the height of the javelin was an issue though I won gold in both. I am working on reducing the height of the javelin so that it can cover more distance.”


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 11:45:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/missed-natural-feeling-of-being-in-world-class-event-but-staying-positive-for-tokyo-says-neeraj-chopra/article35263375.ece

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