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Athletics

AFI president Sumariwalla credits Neeraj for surge in confidence among Indian athletes

Sumariwalla said that Indian athletes, today, started believing in their abilities due to javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra's astonishing success in the global arena.

AFI president Sumariwalla credits Neeraj for surge in confidence among Indian athletes
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FILE PHOTO: Adille Sumariwalla is the president of the Athletics Federation of India. 

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 3 July 2024 4:44 AM GMT

Adille Sumariwalla, the president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), credited ace athlete Neeraj Chopra for the rise of confidence among Indian athletes ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Sumariwalla, who was addressing the media on the occasion of Sports Journalists Day at the Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai (SJAM) in Mumbai on Tuesday, said that the Indian athletes, today, started believing in their abilities due to javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra's astonishing success in the global arena.

Neeraj is India's first Olympic and World Championships gold medallist in athletics. He is also the first Indian athlete to win the Diamond League Trophy in 2022.

Emphasising his impact on Indian athletes, Sumariwalla said, “The rest of them have now started to believe that if a Neeraj Chopra can do it, we are also capable of doing it."

"He stays with us, he eats the same food, he is of the same flesh and blood, he sleeps in the same room as we do. If he can do it, we can do it, too,” said the AFI president about the newly gained belief of Indian athletes.

'Neeraj does not well in the past'

Neeraj is the reigning Olympic champion. He won the yellow metal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

As he is set to defend the gold medal at Paris 2024, Sumariwalla said the 26-year-old does not 'dwell in the past'; he is 'living in the present'.

"He is a cool cat," remarked Sumariwalla.

"Neeraj is someone who does not take pressure. He is not thinking of the past, not of the future. He is thinking of the moment, that is one of his strongest points," he added.

"If you ask him, are you afraid?, he will say ‘dar toh sabko lagta hai’ (everyone gets afraid). He says, ‘tension kuch nahi hai’ (there is nothing like tension)," revealed Sumariwalla, who represented India at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

"I always chat with these people in the warm up area before they go in to compete. He will say ‘ tension kuch nahi hai, aap tension mat lo, mein kar doonga’ (There is no tension, you do not take any. I will do it),” Sumariwalla added.

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