Neeraj Chopra shedding kilos as first step to breach 90m mark | More sports News – Times of India

Away from his home and the bustle of the “wedding season”, the 24-year-old Olympic gold medalist is at Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Centre in San Diego, California, with coach Klaus Bartonietz and physiotherapist Ishaan Marwaha, on a 90-day training regime. And in Neeraj Chopra‘s sight is the elusive 90m mark that he intends to breach this season.
Clinching the gold medal in Tokyo with his second throw of 87.58m in the Olympic finals, Neeraj is aiming to better his distance with some of the biggest sporting events – World Championship, Diamond League, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games – scheduled for 2022, even with the threat of Covid lurking in the backdrop. And he is glad to be back to the athlete regime at the elite 153-acre training facility.
“It was getting very cold in Patiala. And the wedding season had also begun there (India),” Neeraj says with a smile, during a virtual interaction from California on Thursday. “But I am happy to be back to the athlete’s life here. The weather here is better and though I know the situation is getting bad elsewhere, the Covid situation here is still not so bad.”
The post-Olympics delirium in a country that won its first athletics gold in Olympics through Neeraj had its impact on the athlete. Attending listless felicitations and indulging in a non-athlete lifestyle had taken a toll on his fitness.
“After coming back from the Olympics, I had no restrictions on eating. I ate everything from sweet to whatever I liked and I gained 12-13 kg. So getting back to training was very difficult. Since the body was caving in, I had to push myself more mentally every time,” he reflected.
“Now things are getting better and I have reduced 5-6 kg. I have been doing fitness and endurance training for the last few weeks that I am here and hopefully, I can get back to the javelin training soon.”
But breaching the 90m mark is a feat that few people in the sport have achieved, including his closest rival and world No. 1 Johannes Vetter who has a personal best and world record of 97.76m to his credit. But the Indian sporting icon is resolute on bettering his performance.
“It is not about changing my technique to achieve the mark. Instead, I have to work on improving my technique further. For example, I can work on improving my explosive and core strength. Speed is also something I can improve on,” he explained. “My coaches say that if I pay more attention to technique, then I can cross the figure of 90m continuously.”
Neeraj also reflected on that unforgettable moment when India found its name on the biggest sporting stage and the national anthem was being played at the medal ceremony, a dream that the legendary Milkha Singh shared all his life.
“It was an overwhelming experience of fulfilling the wish of legendary athlete Milkha Singh, who has inspired so many in this country. It’s really important to remember him at such a big event. It was his dream to see an Indian athlete win gold at the Olympics. I remembered his words at that moment and I wished that he should have been with us to see his dream coming true,” said Neeraj.
But the hysteria of being India’s first gold medalist in athletics has not overwhelmed the athlete who stays grounded in his interaction with people and presence in social media.
“My family definitely played a role in how I deal with the situation. But on a personal level, I believe that people are coming to me out of love and it’s my responsibility to give them time,” he commented. “And it’s good to see more kids coming into javelin after my win.”
But Neeraj would like to see more steps being taken to improve the sport in the country. “The elite athletes should get more events to participate in. The exposure helps to motivate them to improve. And the kids who are coming in, should get facilities. There should be more equipment available and coaches present to guide them.”
And hopefully, the country can produce more athletes like him even as the 24-year-old aims to improve on his Olympic glory.

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