Neeraj Chopra makes it to the Olympics in style

Tokyo, here I come! Neeraj Chopra is glad that he has booked his berth early.   | Photo Credit: AP

Almost nine months after he underwent surgery, Neeraj Chopra finally returned to action in the most comprehensive manner possible — by qualifying for Tokyo Olympics in his very first competitive outing of the year.

The 22-year-old, who missed out on the entire 2019 season after an elbow surgery in early May, threw 87.86m, well past the 85-metre qualifying mark, on his fourth attempt at the ACNW League Meeting in Potchefstroom, South Africa, late on Tuesday evening. It was his first competition following an intense rehabilitation programme, first at the National Institute of Sport (Patiala) and the Inspire Institute of Sport (Vijayanagar), before shifting base to Potchefstroom in November to train under biomechanics expert Klaus Bartonietz.


“The biggest feeling is one of relief. It was very important to qualify as early as possible because I missed out on the entire last season.

“I knew the sooner I managed to do so, the better it would be because as time goes on, there will invariably be desperation and mistakes will creep in,” Neeraj told The Hindu in an exclusive chat from his training base.

Neeraj returned to rehab in September last year, testing himself tentatively and even thinking of participating in the World Championships before being advised against it. He was then expected to turn up at the National championships in October, but the Athletics Federation of India asked him to go slow.

Working wonders

The rest and workout in the interim have clearly worked. In Potchefstroom, Neeraj managed to easily cross the 80m mark in all his attempts, starting with 81.63m before gradually moving to 82.00 and 82.57.

After the 87.86m, he did not attempt any more throws in order to avoid extra pressure on the elbow. To put things in context, this is Neeraj’s second-best throw ever, behind the 88.06m he threw at the 2018 Asian Games for the gold and a new National record.

“The best thing is that now I can relax, not worry about qualification and only concentrate on training harder here on.

“The main target now would be to compete in major tournaments, including the Diamond League between now and Olympics, try and do my best and test myself against high-level competition and improve my performances there.

“But I will also have to be careful and take care of myself, not strain too much or risk injury. The main focus, though, will only be on Tokyo,” he added.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 3:09:36 PM |

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