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Athletics

In the US, away from wedding invitations, Neeraj Chopra finds 'peace' being back in training

Neeraj Chopra is happy to find his solace being back in training in the USA for training after a busy schedule in India.

Neeraj Chopra after his golden triumph at the Tokyo Olympics
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Neeraj Chopra after his golden triumph at the Tokyo Olympics (Source: Reuters)

By

Md Imtiaz

Published: 30 Dec 2021 9:04 AM GMT

'Far from the madding crowd' Olympic gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is in the USA for his training as preparation continues for the exciting year 2022 which has plenty of challenges for the recently turned 24-year-old.

In a press conference on Thursday, the athlete shared that he is back at his 'happy place' where he is getting adapted to new training methods and reviving his fitness. Neeraj, who hasn't competed in any tournament since the Olympics readily looks forward to 2022 and says he is mentally satisfied being back in his simple training life. "We, athletes, stay detached from families and friends and train for competitions for most of the time of our career. After winning the medal at the Olympics, suddenly I got to meet a lot of people. They were happy around me and showered their praises. But often it creates pressure among athletes and leads to an invisible burden of expectations, which can affect mental health and make you tired. So it is necessary to get back to what you are used to. I am again finding more solace after getting back into training."
Following the event that changed his life, Chopra became the heartthrob of the nation. Hundreds of interviews, get-togethers, and invitations kept him occupied. He was even being invited as a guest in wedding ceremonies. Neeraj was somewhat yearning to get back his training. He quips "The winter had set off in Haryana and wedding season was at the peak so I was being invited to many functions. I got a little bit tired there. Now I am happy that I don't have any distractions here in the USA where I can train with peace of mind."
The man who threw the javelin at 87.58m with ease to win the Olympic gold, however, didn't have it easy to resume his training after almost four months. "After winning the gold I thought I should take a proper break. I ate everything that was offered to me and whatever I had missed out on staying away from home. I gained at least 12 to 13 kgs in this gap. The challenge was to shed this extra weight when I started training again. I had to make much greater efforts and push myself physically. In the last 20 days, I have been able to reduce 5 kgs."


Apart from Neeraj's confidence, many have often wondered how the Olympic medallist stays always grounded and interact with people politely. With the broadest smile on his face, the athlete responded "I think I have got this from my family. I have learned and tried my best to not get carried away with success. And most importantly, I always feel that I should respect others. After my medal, I found many well-wishers to speak to me and share how they loved my achievement, I never felt the urge to avoid that. I always thanked them for their support."
In the coming year, Neeraj said he would primarily be setting his sight on the four big events in the calendar, including the Diamond League, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and the World Championships, which is the only hurdle Neeraj is yet to try his luck. Neeraj believes that he should not be complacent and work on improving his throw "I am still chasing the 90m mark because the competition is intensifying every day. More throwers are emerging in the world who have the capability to throw beyond 90m on their best days. I have to make sure I also make myself up to their mark. Though I desire to participate in all the big tournaments in the coming year, it has to be planned according to the COVID situation in the world. I will plan it accordingly with my coach and the federation."
When asked about what could be done to improve the status of javelin throw in India, Neeraj sounded quite optimistic. "The thing that I am glad about the most is that because of me, people found javelin interesting. I have visited a lot of stadiums in India in the last few months where I saw hundreds of kids enrolling themselves in the sport. The Athletics Federation of India has also called for javelin throw tournaments every year on August 7. I look forward to seeing a big turnaround in these tournaments," He concludes, "We shouldn't stop it right here. An athlete should get more international exposure, better training facilities in India with coaching experts. I will be glad to help to encourage this sport in our country."




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