'No taking pressure': India's javelin star Neeraj Chopra on his approach for the World Championships

PTIUpdated: Saturday, May 28, 2022, 07:37 PM IST
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Neeraj Chopra | Photo: PTI

A World Championships medal is definitely in his mind, but star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Saturday said he will go into the showpiece in July without taking too much pressure, which did the trick for him during the Tokyo Olympics.

The 24-year-old Chopra said thinking too much about a World Championships medal could be counterproductive though such a feat is within his reach if he gives his best on the day of competition.

"During Olympics last year, I did not take any pressure, was not thinking that I shall have to win a gold. With that, I did well and won gold. My approach has been to do my best on the day according to the situation. I am satisfied if I do my best and learn and improve for the future," Chopra told PTI in an interview from his training base in Finland.

"I will do the same during the World Championships and see whatever is the result, whether I win a medal. It's not like I won gold in Olympics last year, so I have to win a medal in World Championships this year. I will see what improvement I can make in future," said Chopra.

"A little bit of pressure is there, it is natural, but I always try to be relaxed, not to think about result too much, and stay as normal as possible while going into a big event."

Age is on his side. Chopra, however, would look to make amends for his 2017 London World Championships disappointing show, where he failed to qualify for the final round. He did not take part in the 2019 World Championships in Doha as he was recuperating from an elbow surgery.

"I was not in the best of my fitness in London World Championships and I have played many competitions by then that season. I could not do well," said Chopra who created history by winning the javelin gold in Tokyo with a throw of 87.58m.

Chopra is currently training at Kuortane Olympic Training Centre in Finland, where he reached on Thursday after shifting base from Turkey. He will train at Kuortane till June 22 as part of preparations for the Worlds (July 14-25) in Eugene, USA, and Commonwealth Games (July 28 to August 8) in Birmingham.

His first competition will be at Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku in Finland on June 14. The likes of Johannes Vetter of Germany, who has thrown 90m-plus the most among active athletes, as well as reigning world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who has begun the season with a massive 93.07m effort at the Doha Diamond League on May 1, will feature in the event.

"My main targets this year are World Championships, CWG and Diamond League Finals and I will try to give my best. I will enter the season gradually and whatever result... hopefully I will do well as I am preparing well. The remaining things will depend on the conditions of the day and how my body will respond. I will not take any pressure of the competition."

In Turkey, Chopra had not done much of the throwing practice but was doing other things, like lifting the weights, running, strength building, etc. But now the focus will be more on throwing.

"There will be all other things also but there will be more focus on throw, on technical things and on distance-wise. I have to set my run-up, how many metres it will be and where to start and cross it and where to stop, etc.

"We have started on all these things. There is less than three weeks but all these things are going on well." Like many of the Indian athletes training abroad, Chopra also cooked food and washed his clothes. He said he enjoyed doing those things as he had learnt them in childhood.

"In many training centres, there are no washing machines, we have to wash our clothes. Many times, we felt we should have Indian food cooked by ourselves. So we go to the supermarket and buy foodstuff, vegetables and others.

"So we have to do those things, the simple way of living. When I started playing sport, for 4-5 years, I washed my own clothes and cooked my own food. These days also, if we get a chance or we are under compulsion or under pressure to do all these things, I do them with pleasure," the champion athlete said.

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