Exclusive | I Will Aim To Do Something Really Memorable at Tokyo Olympics: Neeraj Chopra



He is just 22 years of age but he has become India’s premier athlete when it comes to the sport of javelin throwing. Neeraj Chopra is one of India’s brightest hopes when it comes to athletics.

Ever since he won gold at the South Asian Games followed up by another gold IAAF World U20 Championships as an 18-year-old teen back in 2016. Two more gold medals in the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games and a record throw of 88.06m – a new national record – put Chopra firmly on the world map as one to watch out for in the near future.

The postponement of the 2020 Olympics has come as a blessing in disguise for the javelin star as he was forced to miss the majority of 2019 season due to an elbow injury and subsequent surgery to fix it. There was however some good news in store for Chopra as he has been nominated for this year’s Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.

Chopra spoke exclusively to indiansportsnews.com from the NIS in Patiala, where he has been based since coming back from Turkey due to the Coronavirus lockdown. Excerpts from an exclusive interview…

 Q. What does getting nominated for the nation’s highest sporting honour – Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna mean to you?

It is a good feeling, such a big award and it definitely motivates you to perform better. The rest I will try to perform even better. The final result is not in my hands, my job is to perform as best as I can in my event and I’ll try to do that. My full focus will be on my training.

 Q. How has the lockdown affected your training? How have you been keeping yourself busy during this lockdown period?

The tracks were closed, the gymnasiums were also shut. Whatever body exercises I could do I was doing regularly and in the free time just relaxed by listening to songs or watching movies. It was my effort to try and train a little bit each day even during lockdown.

 Q. With the Olympics postponed till 2021, how are you planning to prepare for this event in the rest of 2020 and then next year?

The way we were preparing for 2020, we have to keep our mind set for 2021 as well. As soon as we begin to get back to training, immediately the full focus will be on 2021 Olympics. My effort will be to capitalise on the benefit of Olympics getting postponed by a year and work on whatever weaknesses we had during our training.

Q. A year away from the Olympics what are your realistic expectations for yourself in this event?

From our side the preparation for the Olympics will top class. The aim will be to bring back a medal or do something so memorable that the world will remember. I will try to give my absolute best in the Olympics and to do that whatever effort that I have to put in, I will do that. Rest all depends on the time and how it works out for us.

Q. What was your training schedule during the lockdown?

Training schedule was less during the lockdown as compared to other times. But at least once a day we were able to train, then for the second half of the day, we did a little bit of walking or running exercises. It wasn’t that I was resting completely but I was training a little bit every day. Regular running and working on the core was part of my daily workout, so that we don’t go down too much on our fitness level and I was controlling on my diet as well. I avoided taking a full diet since I wasn’t training that much.

Q. Tell us about your recovery from the elbow injury and then the surgery last year.

The elbow injury did make it quite tough in the beginning. The surgery went off very well followed by the rehab. Once I got back to throwing the javelin after completing my rehab at the JSW Centre, I was having a bit of problem but when I started recovering, I improved well. But one year got wasted because I wasn’t able to play at all in 2019 but I was fully fit for the Olympics and right also I am doing very well.

Q. Will the lack of training outside India affect your preparations in any way?

We don’t have any idea if we will be able to travel outside India or if the Indian government will allow. Even if training starts back in India again, that is good enough for me.