Written byAndrew Amsan
Commonwealth javelin champion Neeraj Chopra’s schedule has been so jam-packed that he didn’t get much time to celebrate his Gold Coast triumph with his family. The 20-year-old was at his home at Khandra in Haryana’s Panipat district for just few hours before he had to rush to Mumbai for a dinner hosted in honour of IOC president Thomas Bach. Once in tinsel town, Chopra was studio-hopping and facing the camera. Though, he enjoyed the attention, there was worrying thought that kept bothering him. “Need to start training as soon as possible” – he would often tell himself.
Once at National Sports Institute campus in Patiala with his coach Uwe Hohn, Chopra was finally at peace. He could finally work towards getting in shape for the Doha Diamond League that starts on Friday. “I did not want to disrupt my flow. I could not afford the luxury of going home because of the rigorous competition schedule. As far as celebrations are concerned, they can wait till the Asian Games. Ek sath heen karlenge party, ” Neeraj told The Indian Express on the eve of his Doha event.
The field in Doha will feature the world’s top javelin throwers, including German giants Thomas Rohler, the Rio Olympics Champ, and London World Championship gold medallist Johannes Vetter. Rohler recorded a mammoth 93.90m at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium last season while Vetter’s javelin landed at 92.70m in March— the world’s best throw this year. Glasgow champion Julius Yego, who could not qualify for the final at Gold Coast, will be in Doha, hoping to make amends. Competing against such a power-packed field does not unsettle the army man anymore.
“Initially when I started taking part in international competitions, I would be left standing in awe on seeing these throwers walk past me. These are people whose videos I watch to correct my technique, so you can understand how I felt as a teenager. But when you are competing against them regularly, you feel more confident and comfortable around them,” said Neeraj. After his Doha assignment Neeraj, along with the other elite throwers, will move to Finland for a national camp, which will be his base while competing in the next legs of the Diamond League.
“The main goal is to be consistent. This season has been the best I have had so far in my career. I feel everything going my way, but I need to make sure there is no let up in intesity,” he said. Neeraj has also set a target of breaching the 90m mark by the end of this year. But he is cautious on not burning himself out. His career-best throw (86.48m) remains the one that grabbed him a Jr Worlds gold in Poland. At the Gold Coast event, he fell just a cm short of his personal best but the effort was enough for him to secure the top spot comfortably.
“A medal at such international events boosts your confidence immensely. It will inspire me to put in more effort towards fine-tuning my art. Although I do want to cross the 90m mark, most people don’t understand that even adding an inch to your throw is a humongous task. Adding distance is subject to a lot of things, but I am confident,” he said.
Neeraj has been home just once in the last six months, that too only for a few hours, but he is in constant touch with his parents back home through whats-app calls. He plans a brief visit just before boarding the flight to Finland. “Ghar ki roti khani hai bass. I also want to sit and have a long chat my family members,” he said. “Party? That will be after the Asian Games.”
For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App