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Rediff.com  » Sports » 'My best is yet to come': Neeraj Chopra

'My best is yet to come': Neeraj Chopra

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 31, 2023 17:56 IST
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'If everything is all right, 100 per cent fit and my groin is all right, I will do very well in Paris Olympics.'

Neeraj Chopra recorded his best throw of 88.17 metres in his second attempt to bag gold at the World Athletics Championships on August 27, 2023

IMAGE: Neeraj Chopra recorded his best throw of 88.17 metres in his second attempt to bag gold at the World Athletics Championships on August 27, 2023. Photograph: AFI/X

Olympic and World champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Tuesday made it clear that his best is yet to come and indicated that the elusive 90m mark could be breached next year if he makes improvement in his technique, especially concerning the leg-blocking.

Chopra became world champion earlier this year, adding to his historic gold in the Tokyo Olympics, and then defended his Asian Games title in the Hangzhou recently.

 

"I want to say this very clearly that my best is yet to come. I have not felt in a competition for a long time that I have done my best or done near my best," the 25-year-old Chopra said on Tuesday.

"6 cm is left to be achieved. It was 89.94m at Stockholm Diamond League (in June 2022). I was a bit behind the line that time. Had I thrown my javelin by moving a bit ahead, it would have been 90m," he added.

"I feel this year, my performance was short of my best. Next year, I will do my best throw."   

His top-class flexibility and arm speed made him Olympic and world champion but Chopra wants to perfect his leg-blocking technique.

"My coach always says that it 60 per cent legs and 40 per cent upper body. So leg work is very important. I have to do a lot of improvement in leg work," said the superstar javelin thrower.

"I do a lot of things good. My flexibility is quite good, but personally I feel because of my arm speed, I am doing very well.

"Next year, I feel I will improve on my technique, will work more on my strength and flexibility. If everything is all right, 100 per cent fit and my groin is all right, I will do very well in Paris Olympics."

He admitted that his technique while winning the Hangzhou Asian Games gold was not up to the mark.

"My technique was not going well during Hangzhou Asian Games. My legwork was not that good, my blocking leg was bending. It was not that great but the important thing was that my arm was giving very good throw, my arm speed was very good."

He also said that 'in some way or the other', his preparations for Paris Olympics will be different, though he did not elaborate much.

Chopra carried a groin strain, which he had suffered in later part of May, throughout the season, even during his gold-winning campaigns in the World Championships and Asian Games.

He said he had seen a German doctor after the Asian Games, who told him there was nothing serious about the groin strain.

"The doctor said it is all right and I can start my training without any problem. I was playing with the groin problem (during World Championships and Asian Games) but I thought there should not be even one per cent doubt in my mind.

"Next year, it would mainly be working on my strength, what type of exercises I need to do and how to do those. I have to pay attention on them and have to keep doing them in a proper way," he said when asked to elaborate his consultation with the German doctor.

IMAGE: Neeraj Chopra said he will not compete in too many events before the Paris Games. Photograph: Neeraj Chopra/Instagram

He said he will start little bit of training in India after two-three weeks but has not decided the place. After that, he is set to train in South Africa during winter (in India).

"I will have to decide whether it (training place) is at NIS or IIS (Inspire Institute of Sports). The competition calendar of next season, especially of Diamond League has come but we don't know still which legs will have javelin throw. We may know that by December.

"Will discuss with TOPS and send proposal. During winter (in India), I will go to South Africa for training where a lot of good javelin throwers from around the world come. I will do proper strength training for 2-3 months for this groin problem.

"The off season will continue for a while, there will be fitness training and then I will start throwing javelin again in January or February, we will know at that time what is the result (of the specific workout for the groin problem)," Chopra said, adding that he has controlled his weight this time, unlike the gain due to several felicitation functions after the Tokyo Olympics triumph.

Just like in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, Chopra said he will not compete in too many events before the Paris Games.

"I will take part in selected competitions so that it can fit in the Paris Olympics preparations. As far as which competitions I will take part next year, I will be able to tell in December," said Chopra.

Chopra thanked Kishore Jena for giving him a tough competition during the Hangzhou Asian Games. Jena won a silver in Hangzhou with a personal best throw of 87.54m in India's 1-2 finish.

"He (Jena) is not of big built but he has lot of the strength. The rhythm of his runway is very good, that is his strength. I saw him during the Asian Games. If your runaway is good, you can throw very well," said Chopra who had thrown 88.88m in Hangzhou.

"I told him to keep his runway like this or improve upon it. His strength, technique and the way he follows the javelin till the end is very good, he is fast. He has great potential. The way he improved this year, he can even do better next year."

Asked about any difference in technique between him and Jena, Chopra said, "My runway is jig-jag in between, stops a bit and slows down when I start cross-stepping (before release of javelin). But his runway speed is very good, his speed keeps on increasing.

"Personally, I feel his blocking leg bends a bit if you see him in video. If he (Jena) works on his blocking leg, he can do even better."

Asked about India's interest in hosting the 2036 Olympics, Chopra said, "For me, I want this to happen. My dream was this (Olympics) to happen in India and I am able to play. But it is very difficult to last so long in javelin.

"I can't be there till then. My hope is to watch that to happen. By then our sports would have gone up much at a higher level with more medals."

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