Neeraj Chopra ready for Finland stint after undergoing training in Patiala
Reenergised after a break, India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is ready to build on his success at the Doha Diamond League, where he broke his own national record in a star-studded field. With a best performance of 87.43m, that helped him finish fourth, the Commonwealth Games champion announced to the world that he is absolutely not intimidated by the biggest names in his sport.
For the past few days, the 20-year-old has been honing his skills under the tutelage of national coach, Uwe Hohn at the national camp held at NIS Patiala. The national team of seven javelin throwers was supposed to train at the Olympic Training Centre in Kuortane, Finland from May 10, but they had to wait for the sports ministry’s nod.
All set to fly this week, the Panipat-born Chopra spoke to Sportskeeda exclusively about his Doha heroics, his target this year, training with Uwe Hohn and lots more.
Q: How did it feel breaking your own national record in such a tough field at the Doha Diamond League?
A: It felt great breaking my own national record. The competition was very, very tough there. That I could give my best in such a field gave me a lot of confidence. I stood fourth after producing my very best and it was a very satisfying feeling. Overall, it was a great experience for me.
Q: You have said a lot of times that the likes of Thomas Rohler and Johannes Vetter have been your heroes. How was it competing against them in the same field?
A: It felt pretty normal competing with the likes of Rohler and Vetter. It was very different when I was in the same field with them last year at the Paris Diamond League. It was my first time competing against them. I was more in awe of them at that time since I have sharpened my skills watching their videos. After that, I have got used to it. So this time, it didn’t feel like anything different. I was more confident and could feel that I belonged there.
Q: You fouled thrice in your six attempts in Doha. Did you feel any pressure then?
A: No, there was no pressure on me. Sometimes it does happen that unknowingly the balance does not remain perfect and the resulting throw doesn’t turn out to be great.
Q: You were close to a medal. Do you have any regret missing out on one?
A: No, I didn’t have any regret missing out on a medal because my biggest target was to produce my best.
And I wasn’t much close to a medal in the end, either. I was behind the bronze winner by 2.5-3m at least because Andreas Hofmann threw over 90m as well. And the gold and the silver medal winners, Thomas Rohler and Johannes Vetter both threw over 91m. So, I was actually quite far from them. The effort it takes to increase even 1m is massive.
Q: How much confidence will such a performance give you ahead of the Asian Games?
A: Yes, this performance will definitely boost my confidence ahead of the Asian Games. I will surely try to give my very best there as well.
Q: Vetter has said that he expects you to achieve 88-90m this year. What do you have to say about that? How much are you targeting this season?
A: Great to know he feels like that. And my Doha performance was close to his prediction. I will try my utmost to raise my throw to 90m. At least 88m+ is what I am targeting at and working hard on at the moment.
But the main thing is that I don’t want to put myself under undue pressure by chasing 90m. I just want to give my very best at every competition, that’s my main aim.
Q: How has the experience of training with Uwe Hohn been?
A: It has been a very good experience training with Uwe Hohn right from the start. I have been more focussed and more motivated than before.
I would love to train with him till the Asian Games. He has been such a great javelin thrower himself, he knows the nitty-gritties of the sport very well and also knows how to motivate his pupils.
Q: Can you talk a bit about how your training has been going on post-Doha? And what is your next competition?
A: I have been training at NIS Patiala with Uwe Hohn for the past few days along with all the other throwers. The national camp has been going on here for some time after which we shall leave for Finland in a couple of days.
My next competition is the Eugene Diamond League in the USA on May 26.