If he could have touched the distance of 90 meters, it would have been great, but Neeraj Chopra was not upset about it at all. The Tokyo Olympics gold medalist is relishing the achievement of becoming the first Indian to win the Diamond League in Zurich on Thursday.
Although his first attempt was fouled in the final, Neeraj secured the victory by throwing 88.44 meters of the javelin in his second attempt. Speaking to the Indian media after setting the precedent, Neeraj said that he was not at all disappointed not to be able to touch the 90m distance. “It would be great if I could touch 90m. But let’s say I touch 90m but don’t win a medal, then what’s the point?” The question is simple. He added, “Winning a medal is the only goal. Not the distance. Rather, I am very happy to be able to maintain consistency in the current season. I am not under any pressure with 90m. It will happen when the time comes.”
Neeraj’s personal best throw is 89.94m. The boy from Haryana’s Panipat feels that winning a competition with a good throw, if not a big one, means he can handle tough conditions. “In these events, you have to fight against the best in the world. If the environment is very tough, and I can handle it better than the opponents, then a medal can come in the 85m throw as well,” said Neeraj. “Winning a medal is more important than how far you throw the javelin. People don’t remember distance. They remember whether I could have won the medal.” The Diamond League ended a memorable season for Neeraj, who also became the first Indian to win silver at the World Championships in July.
Asked how big a test it will be for him to maintain his fitness after the end of the season, Neeraj said, “It was a new experience for me last year (after becoming the Olympics champion). It was difficult to balance. But I learned a lot from last time.” Neeraj says to refrain from what he did last season. So that in due course he can get back into rhythm and maintain fitness. “During training, I will give full effort. So that the preparation goes well. Won’t rest too much. I will start practicing in advance. I also have to be careful about what I eat and drink so that I don’t gain weight,” says Neeraj.
Preparation after Olympics
Neeraj also told me what problems he had to face in the last season. “I started my preparation late after the Olympics. The biggest test for me was getting back to fitness. I emphasized technique, on strength. But this time I did well in terms of technique. A lot depends on technique in the javelin. So that helped me,” said Neeraj. The Olympics champion is very happy that at this stage, Indian athletes have come to the attention of the world.