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'There's inspiration and positive energy after meeting such legends' - Neeraj Chopra on meeting Sunil Gavaskar

Neeraj Chopra at the Tokyo Olympics
Neeraj Chopra at the Tokyo Olympics

When Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar’s celebratory video went viral. In the video, Gavaskar dances and sings the famous Indian song “Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle, ugle heere moti”.

The Javelin thrower is back in India after training in Chula Vista, USA. Chopra recently attended an award ceremony in Mumbai where he met many current and former sportspeople, including the great Sunil Gavaskar.

“Maine unka (Sunil Gavaskar) video dekha tha Olympics final ke baad. Woh dance kar rahey they aur gaa rahey they, kaafi achaa josh tha. Ussi ke bare mein baat huyi”, said Chopra exclusively to Sportskeeda after meeting Sunil Gavaskar.

Exclusive video of Olympic Gold medalist Neeraj Chopra meeting cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar. https://t.co/kNmW2ls9dP

Chopra added, “ It’s always great to meet sports legends like Gavaskar sir. There’s inspiration and you get positive energy after meeting them. He wished me good me luck and asked me to keep making India proud.”

Chopra spent three months training in Chula Vista, USA, where he was accompanied by coach Klaus Bartonietz and physio Ishaan Marwaha. Later this year, the World Athletics Championships will be held in Eugene, Oregon, USA. Chopra will participate in a few Diamond League competitions and is expected to train again at Chula Vista before the World Championships.

"The biggest advantage is that India and the USA have a massive time difference and even the weather (is different), so training there will help. But the primary need is to get fit and get back to that level again," he said.

Neeraj Chopra in action at the Tokyo Olympics
Neeraj Chopra in action at the Tokyo Olympics

Chopra has won gold in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and Asian Games. Upon being asked if he would try to complete the circle by winning a medal at the World Championships later this year, he said, “I’m working hard and will leave the rest for D-day. There's no point in taking pressure now. I’ll do my best in training and give my 100 percent there.“

Chopra didn't get a chance to train for a few months after his gold medal win in Tokyo. He was invited for public appearances and felicitations and went on a much-needed vacation. He ate all his favorite foods and had put on up to 12 kgs of weight after the Olympics.

"I haven't been away from training this long since I started competing, so that was a little challenging for me. My weight increased and I had to get myself back to the same level of fitness and get used to training. Weight can be lost but it takes time to regain the same strength, speed and flexibility. Even now there’s a lot of scope for improvement”, he said.

Chopra’s personal best throw is 88.07 m which he achieved at the 2021 Indian Grand Prix in Patiala. Since the Tokyo Olympics, the expectation is for him to achieve the 90 m mark.

“To achieve the 90 m mark, you need to improve your technique and strength. I’m improving on both, let’s see how it goes”, he said.

While most of the athletes present at the award ceremony were accompanied by life partners, Neeraj was accompanied by a gentleman. It was later confirmed that the gentleman was Sultan Chopra, one of Neeraj's three uncles.

Neeraj Chopra with his uncle Sultan Chopra
Neeraj Chopra with his uncle Sultan Chopra

“We are four brothers and our duty with Neeraj is on a rotation basis. Last time, Bhim went with him to Uttarakhand to meet the Governor. It was my turn this time so I’m here”, Sultan Chopra told Sportskeeda.

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Edited by Steffi
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