We were not thinking of gold: Neeraj Chopra's coach Klaus Bartonietz
Neeraj Chopra's coach Klaus Bartonietz said that they were expecting silver or bronze, but not gold for the javelin star at Tokyo Olympics
Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has rectified most of the shortcomings in his technique and now the endeavour is to maintain technical "stability" to touch greater heights in the coming years, says his coach Klaus Bartonietz.
Chopra began working with Bartonietz in 2019 after undergoing successful surgery and the German bio-mechanics expert said though the youngster did not have any major flaws but still needed attention.
"Run-up speed, (not) blocking in correct body position and 'rushing' into the throw as a young powerful athlete.... these were the shortcomings I found (at the beginning). The follow through should be more forward than on sideways," Bartonietz told PTI in an interview from his home in Germany.
"I made him understand and he started understanding the correct way. There was nothing dramatic. The angle of release should be right, you need to know aerodynamics if you want to throw farther. We have to do step by step to develop.
"No doubt, there are improvements we have made. There were shortcomings but we have worked them out." Asked if there are no technical shortcomings now, Bartonietz said, "We have to work all the time on technique and continue and make it stable. You may do well during training but during competitions mental state is different. If you want to do the same thing you have done during training, you have to calm down (during competitions) and be confident."
The German said the good thing about Chopra is that he is an all-around athlete as he can sprint, jump and perform other exercises well. He said when he took Chopra under his wings in 2019, he knew the Haryana lad has it in him to become a top thrower in the world.
"I was sure, everybody was sure because some people do very well in junior level but worn out later on. But he was going in a sophisticated way (after becoming world junior champion). So, everybody was sure he has a bright future."
During the build-up to the Olympics, Chopra had said that he was trying to throw the javelin flatter as the high projectile of the spear reduces the actual distance covered.
Asked about this, Bartonietz said, "The javelin should go far and not high. Most of the athletes at the Olympics threw the javelin high. It's not our business to correct them but yes it's the correct thing to try and throw flatter."
Chopra topped the qualification round ahead of German Johannes Vetter, who came to Tokyo as gold-medal favourite but finished ninth, and Bartonietz said winning a gold was never a realistic target.
"Depending on what the others do (in the final), there was a real chance to win a silver or bronze, but not gold. Nobody thought of gold," he said. "When you are so much fixed with gold. If you think like I must win gold, I will win gold, then mostly this will not happen. If you are enjoying what you are doing, and if you are doing your best, medals or gold medal will come."
Chopra came up with big throws in his first attempt in both the qualification round and the final, and Bartonietz said that was always a part of the plan. "It is his intention and logic also. You want to give a shock to your opponents and show them that I am the contender. Everybody would like to do this.
"You cannot save your best throw consciously till the end. You don't know whether you will make the first three." Chopra took part in only thee international competitions before the Olympics and Bartonietz said the number of events will be more next year but there will be no "overdoing".
Asked what is the ideal number of competitions before Olympics, he said, "Around six competitions. We had Portugal, Karlstad and Kuortane, we could have one in Sweden in Upsala but then we did not take part.
"Definitely, there was problem to get visa to England and there was this fear of you may have to go to quarantine as you came from India. He competed more than last year. Next year there will be more competitions but not overdoing."
Bartonietz said Chopra's season is over and the youngsters is not taking part in any competition this year, including in any remaining legs of the Diamond League.
"No, he has skipped it (Diamond League). His season is over. He needs training in the next two three weeks. I will come back to India around the end of September or beginning of October."