Ahead of Worlds, Javelin champ Neeraj Chopra hopes to work towards Tokyo magic in much-awaited return

For javelins participating in the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, there is always an added incentive. Breaking the Finnish national record in the spiritual home of javelin throws gives one a huge bonus. Four years ago, shooters who exceeded 93.09 meters got title to the island. This was no joke.

This year’s incentive will appeal to Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra. The owner of a used Ford Mustang – who had rewarded himself with an American muscle car for making history in Tokyo – has been alerted about the eco-friendly electric option.

A day before Chopra’s long-awaited return after the Olympics, the organizers cleverly tweeted: “Mr. India’s first Olympic champion at home! Neeraj Chopra (@Neeraj_chopra1), it’s a pleasure to be in #Turkey! The spear will be epic!! Also, How would a Ford Mustang Match-E sound? Over 93.09 meters (sic) Have a nice ride.”

A photo of a laid-back Chopra, with a baseball cap pulled back and posing in front of a large black-and-white hole poster of the legendary distance runner, popularly known as the Flying Finn and the holder of nine Olympic gold medals, was part of a social media post. Ten months after the Tokyo rush, Chopra will compete for the first time on Tuesday night in Turku. Temperatures are cool 18°C ​​and a light drizzle is expected shortly after the javelin throwing competition. Toriko will feel welcome until the shooters reach the call room.

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Neeraj Chopra, Neeraj Chopra Tokyo Olympics, Neeraj Chopra Interview The only lesson I learned from javelin throwing is that there is no substitute for hard work and dedication, says the Olympic gold medalist. (Photo: Neeraj Chopra/Instagram)

On the runway waiting for a controversial event, Chopra will experience what it means to be the man everyone wants to beat. Neither the Finnish record nor the car will be on his mind. Chopra said he hasn’t felt the pressure of being an Olympic champion yet during a recent interaction from his training base in Antalya, Turkey. He was great as a choice in Tokyo and beat a world-class field. But can he do it again at the world championships in Oregon just over a month from now? Has there been enough time to regain strength, fitness and flexibility since gaining weight during two months of festivities back home?

Turku is a good place to start measuring shape and fitness. Chopra will meet some of the greats who have left Tokyo empty-handed but are on the lookout for glory at the World Championships. Grenada’s Anderson Peters, the current world champion, did not qualify for the final in Tokyo. His throw of 93.27 meters last month in the Doha Diamond League, his personal best result, makes him the favourite. But did it peak too early? Peters in Turku.

Neeraj Chopra has been clicked with 2016 champion Thomas Rohler, 3-time Olympic champion and one of Turkey’s idols, Jan Selezny. (Instagram)

Tokyo’s silver medalist, Czech Jakub Vadlejch went over 90, a personal best. German Julian Webber, fourth at the Summer Games, improved by leaps and bounds with 89.54 metres. Vadlejch, Weber and Peters add depth to the Continental Tour Gold Series event. Chopra’s German boyfriend Johannes Vetter, who now has a full beard, has pulled out of Turku but it won’t be long before he lines up with Chopra this season.

Vetter knows the hardships of getting out too early. He was the favorite to win the Olympic gold medal after a string of 90-meter throws earlier in the season. But in the Tokyo final, he has not yet made the first three throws. This season, he’s probably wiser and keeping his best in the world championships, starting modestly at 85.64 metres.

go through the distance

Chopra is not obsessed with the 90-meter mark, having won his famous gold at 87.58 metres. Distances can fluctuate in the javelin, a technology-led event, and even more so in major competitions as we’ve seen in Tokyo or at the previous Doha worlds where Peters won the gold with 86.89 metres. However, Chopra knows it’s time for the 90m mark to his name. If the best in the world find their collective form in the World Championships, he will have to respond.

“My target is 90 meters but not in the first competition; sometime this year. My coach (Klaus Bartonitz) is thinking that when the season starts, I should start with a throw of about 86-87-88. With that, we will also know my fitness level so far and what We have to focus on him in training (moving forward) “I won’t go into any distance competition,” Chopra said during a recent interaction.

He was unfazed by Peters and Fadelgisch’s progress. He is not chasing records but is determined to join the elite 90m club.

“I want to do my best. In general, the competition in the world is improving. But it all depends on the day. How the shooters deal with this type of weather and conditions is important because it has an impact. Vetter threw 97 meters (97.76 metres) but this Not that I want to break his record. Jacob also did a good job, they also have a goal. My goal is also to achieve it (90 metres) in a competition. I will not leave any stone unturned.”

Neeraj Chopra Neeraj Chopra

Going from the mid-’80s to the ’90s isn’t like clicking a switch. Javeliners work on strength, speed (on the runway), flexibility and technical nuances – which is a strong and effective leading-leg mass that is vital. Release the spear five degrees above or below the ideal (34 to 36 degrees recommended) can result in hits and shorter distances. The perfect fusion is a must even for an 85-meter throw, Chopra said.

“Everything needs to be tapped. Fitness is key. Your throwing distance may be good but in the weight room if you’re not feeling good, or if your jumping (workouts) aren’t good or you’re not running well, you won’t feel good. The most important is That with speed on the runway, you have to maintain style and control your body. If we want to go over 85 metres, everything should be fine.”

Chopra had to start from the basics again when he traveled to Chula Vista in the USA in November after the celebrations across the country ended after the Olympics. Apparently he was heavier by then, he started losing weight.

“I lost about 12 to 14 kilos,” Chopra said. But achieving lower numbers on the weight scale is easy for the discerning athlete. The challenge is the following: “I can lose 10 kilograms in 10 days if I run and diet. But the challenge is how to achieve fitness at the level of athletes after losing weight.”

Three meet in 17 days

Staying out of injuries will be Chopra’s immediate focus. He had elbow surgery three years ago and he had valuable time. After four days of competition in Turku, Chopra will take part in the Kortan Games on June 18, followed by the Diamond League in Stockholm on June 30. Three weeks after throwing it in Stockholm is the qualifying round for the World Championships.

“I have three competitions in two weeks. I need to keep fit and stay away from injuries and that is the main thing. But in competitions, you have to do your best. Only then can I do well throughout the season.”

Since Chopra’s historic victory, sport in the country has begun to emerge. He talks about the interest of 2016 Olympic champion Thomas Rohler (missed Tokyo due to injury) and Vetter about the popularity of the javelin in India and the emergence of a group of young 80-meter bowlers. The trio held discussions at a joint training base in Turkey. Chopra also launched a YouTube channel recently where his training videos will be posted. 30.7 thousand subscribers, many of whom are passionate javelins, are waiting for a new post by the golden boy of Indian Athletics with a huge presence on social media.

The channel launch video background sound contains the clear roar of a Mustang engine with short clips of the speeding car. Chopra’s career was in an acceleration phase. Over the next month and a half, he hopes to slip over the speed breakers, if any.

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