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Athletics

'Pressure to defend title at Paris Olympics is inevitable': Neeraj Chopra

Star Indian athlete Neeraj Chopra is ready to defend his Olympic title at Paris and will start his season in May 2024.

Neeraj Chopra
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Neeraj Chopra clinched gold at Paavo Nurmi Games in Finland on June 18, 2024. (Photo Credit: AP)

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 8 March 2024 2:09 PM GMT

World and Tokyo Olympics javelin champion Neeraj Chopra said pressure will be inevitable when he goes to defend his title in Paris 2024.

"Managing pressure will be inevitable once you enter the Games Village and start focusing on your event," Neeraj told SAI Media.

Currently on a short break after his training in South Africa, Neeraj said that training and competition are like chalk and cheese.

Chopra, who will be training in Turkey from this week ahead of returning to outdoor competition for the first time in 2024, said he was in “top physical shape” and “has never felt so good before.”

The build-up to Tokyo 2020 was a challenging one for the 26-year-old Chopra who had missed an entire season due to injuries.

“I want to be in the best possible shape before Paris. My training sessions have gone well so far. I always lay stress on fitness along with strength and technique. This is the best I have felt in a long time but I must add that training and competition are not the same. When you wear the India jersey, the feeling is different, the josh in us is unbelievable,” Chopra added.

Saying the years after Tokyo 2020 have been “very different,” Chopra said his performance indicated his preparation for global tournaments was going all right.

“I have won medals in two world championships, threw my personal best (89.94m at Stockholm), won a dream Diamond League title, and even defended my gold at the Asian Games. All in all, I have been in great space and want to carry forward that momentum from May onwards,” said Chopra.

Chopra feels his “best is yet to come.”

“I have felt at my best only once before during the 2016 world junior championship. But after that, I think I can do better and am still unsatisfied. I am working hard and let’s see where I finish,” said the javelin superstar.

When asked about crossing the elusive 90m mark, Neeraj said that distance matters less to him.

“What matters to me is staying 100% fit, being consistent during the season, and delivering on the day that matters. I think there are mistakes to fix and looking at the increasing competition all around, one has to keep improving. The road will close if you think you have done it all,” said Chopra.

Neeraj will be facing a new competition in the form of German youngster Max Dehning who crossed 90m recently at the German Winter Meet. However, Neeraj is unfazed by the challenge and believes that such youngsters will raise the level of the competition at Paris.

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