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20-year old boy can't know what's good for him, AFI President on Neeraj Chopra

20-year old boy cant know whats good for him, AFI President on Neeraj Chopra

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Published: 17 April 2018 11:27 AM GMT
In the final days of the Commonwealth Games, 20-year old Neeraj Chopra created history by bagging a Gold in the Men's Javelin Throw. The enormity of his achievement sent waves of adulation and celebration back through his home country while we were left to marvel at how a youth effectively gave India what athletes throughout generations could not- a dominant performance which made him only the fourth Indian in history to win a track and field Gold. A lot of credit for this amazing performance, a throw which miles ahead of Neeraj's competitors at Gold Coast, goes to German Werner Daniels who had been training the Indian in the months leading up to the multi-sport tournament. Under him, Chopra undoubtedly flourished, and has often been held up as the face of Indian athletics in the present and in the future. Despite this boom in performance, however, the Athletics Federation of India has officially issued a statement saying that they are unable to get on board with Neeraj's off-shore training. According to a report in The Hindu, Adille Sumariwalla, the AFI President was quoted as saying, "How does Neeraj know what is good for him? We know all the training centres, we know all the coaches. How can a 20-year-old boy know, we have 20 years of experience." What might be relevant here is the presence of Uwe Hohn at the Indian camp who had been roped in last year a few weeks after the Asian Athletics C'ships in Bhubaneshwar. With the presence of athletes like Davinder Singh Kang and Neeraj Chopra, the appointment of Hohn was seen to be a step in the positive direction because, as it might be recalled, the German Hohn is the only man in history with a 100m-plus throw. After Hohn's appointment, however, Neeraj had raised quite a few eyebrows when he decided to opt out of training with the German field athletics legend choosing instead to train independently. He wasn't the only one. Annu Rani, the 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist chose not to train with Hohn either in what might have been considered a setback at the time.
Reports had also been around prior to Hohn's appointment regarding him setting Neeraj training under him as a precondition to travel to India at all. Since the German legend's appointment, even that scenario has been riddled with controversies which included supposed discrepancies over pay and facilities. For his part, Neeraj has insisted that he has learnt a lot from both Daniels and Hohn while crediting their teachings as a major reason for his success. 'I've been improving steadily. For three months, I'd been in Germany, to train there. Working with Werner Daniels in Germany was also very helpful, and I've been training and learning from Uwe Hohn also. I worked with the coach in Patiala too. I've learnt a lot from these coaches in the last six months,' he was quoted as saying by The Tribune. Talking condescendingly about a 20-year old not knowing what is best for him is particularly irrelevant at this point of time especially given that Chopra has achieved so much at a very young age and is clearly miles ahead of his competitors on certain stages. The continental championships remain a major test for the lad and it remains to be seen whether the AFI would be arrogant enough to force their opinions on one of India's top athletes. If they do, it's really going to make any sense because under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme, Neeraj Chopra is completely within his rights to use the funds for his own personal training if he so wishes. Only time will tell how the matter is resolved.
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