'A little bit of groin issue is still there, it happened last year also.'
A groin strain has been troubling Neeraj Chopra for some time now but the Olympic champion does not want the thought of injury to affect him as he gears up to defend his Asian Games title.
Chopra played most part of the season with a groin strain but still won the World Championships title in August in Budapest and went on to finish second in the Diamond League finals on September 16.
"I have come back here after training and doing rehab in a relaxed manner in Switzerland. I hope to give my 100 per cent and defend my Asian Games title," Chopra said in Hangzhou on Saturday.
"A little bit of groin issue is still there, it happened last year also. I was feeling better but it happened again. I have to take care of this very well and then prepare for the Paris Olympics. This kind of thing happens for athletes who compete at the top level."
The 25-year-old javelin thrower had suffered a groin injury (adductor muscles) while training abroad in between his two Diamond League titles in Doha (May) and Lausanne (June 30). He missed action for one month and skipped three top competitions.
He rested and trained for nearly two months after June 30 without taking part in any competition, going straight for the World Championships.
But he did not recover completely from the strain and had that in mind during the World Championships and following Diamond League finals.
He said the challenge throughout the season was how to keep his mind away from the injury and focus more on his game.
"I was struggling during the World Championships and I was trying to divert my mind from the injury and focus on the throw.
"My strength is on the speed in the run-up but my biggest problem this time was I could not throw with full run-up even during training because of this injury. But still I am very happy with my performance this season. I want to take away this thought of injury from my mind."
Chopra reckons that elite sports persons carry minor injuries here and there and it is about managing them,
"Javelin involves some unnatural movement and so there will be some pull or tightness here and there. In sports, you don't get 100 per cent of what you think. I feel we should not run from situations, and should accept challenges. I can't leave the Asian Games (because of a groin injury).
"Top sportspersons always have minor injuries here and there but you should know how to manage the injuries, how to divert it from the mind and focus on the game."
From cricketers to shooters, foreign athletes and scribes to volunteers and officials, Chopra is the cynosure of all eyes at the Athletes Village here as all of them want photos, selfies and shake hands with the Indian superstar.
"There is always a positivity because I can meet all the Indian athletes here. Cricket is a part of the Asian Games and I feel good meeting with the athletes. I speak to them, takes photos with them.
"I went to the stadium also yesterday. Weather is a bit rainy but I am hoping it wil all right when my event nears. I am happy that the stadium is big and nearly full."
When asked about his opponent Arshad Nadeem of Pakistan, Chopra said, "Athletics is a global sport. During the world championships, a lot of people asked that Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem was also playing and what is my view on that."
"It is not a one-on-one competition. Athletes from many countries are playing. I feel good whether I am playing with athletes from Germany or Czech Republic or Pakistan. When we are on the field, we always push each other that we should do well. We are good with each other off the field, that is the message of sports."
Chopra said that he did not use his own javelin during the Diamond League Finals in Eugene, United States, on September 16 where he had finished second.
"I travelled without my own javelin for the first time while competing in the Diamond League finals in Eugene. We had to change two flights and sometimes it happens that javelin is left behind.
"So, I thought I will use whatever is available during competition but it was not that good one, it was a new one, from a new company, a hard javelin which has not been used earlier. Everybody struggled there."