12 May Jonathan Cartu Reported: Spear-less for 50 days, Neeraj Chopra stays gritty | More s…
One of India’s best medal prospects at the Olympics, he was ready to give it his best shot. The Games postponement has deferred that plan, but the man is looking at the bright side.
“I will be able to get more time to fine-tune some of my technical skills. I am looking at it as a positive in terms of my preparations for the Olympics,” Chopra, who is stuck at National Institute of Sports in Patiala ever since he was forced to return from a training camp in Turkey on March 18, told TOI. Neeraj, though, is sorely missing his spear.
“The lockdown has made it difficult for us to train. We do not have access to the track. It is definitely not an ideal situation for any athlete to be in,” said Neeraj, who is focusing on working on his conditioning and fitness. “I am using the area in the hostel for practice. I try to keep my routine as normal as I can and train twice a day,” he said.
A surgery on his right elbow had forced the 22-year-old from Panipat to miss the 2019 season just when he was getting into his groove. He had qualified for the Olympics on the first attempt, at the ACNW League meeting in Potchefstroom in South Africa in January, with a throw of 87.86m.
“The last two years have been quite a ride. I did have a good 2018 with gold at Commonwealth Games and Asiad. But then I missed out on the entire 2019 season because of the surgery. I had a successful rehabilitation at Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary and at NIS, Patiala. The proof was that I was able to qualify for the Olympics in my first competition. So, while I was short of competition experience, I think I would have been ready for the Olympics had they gone on as scheduled,” said Neeraj.
The only concern now is that staying away from competition for a long time might take a toll, mentally. He said, “This is a long break for me but there are times when you can’t control the situation. As an athlete, I can focus on my training and keep a positive mindset. Breaks do affect the mentality of the athletes, but we have to make sure the negative thoughts don’t affect us. I am sure all the athletes around the world are doing the same right now.”
Despite the hype around him, Neeraj is not worried about the high expectations. He said: “I don’t take any sort of pressure. I feel honoured and privileged that people have expectations from me. It motivates me to do well. Personally, I don’t think about milestones or medals, but I like to take each competition as it comes and focus on doing my best.”