Having ‘learned’ through experience, he plans to do things differently as next season approaches.
Olympic gold medalist javelin thrower Chopra achieved another historic feat on Thursday as he became the first Indian to win the prestigious Diamond League Finals title in Zurich.
Incredible feeling to end the 2022 season as the winner of the Diamond Trophy. The vibe was great and it was awesome… https://t.co/38rIZI1AEX
—Neeraj Chopra (@Neeraj_chopra1) 1662708021000
Hours after his latest feat in the Swiss city, the 24-year-old woke up to a group of Indian scribes waiting to get a citation or two from the country’s athletics elite during a virtual interaction . One of the questions was about his off-season planning going forward.
“Last year was a whole new experience for me, the balance was tough, but I learned from last season,” Chopra said.
He has guaranteed that he will avoid everything he did last offseason, in order to peak at the right time and maintain his fitness.
Golds, Silvers done, he offers a 24 carat diamond 💎 this time to the nation 🇮🇳🤩 Ladies and gentlemen, salute the great… https://t.co/Xp1FqzdBgs
— Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) 1662666118000
“This time for the few commercial engagements I will give dates in advance. When it comes time for training, I will be fully focused on that…so that the preparation is well taken care of.
“I won’t rest too much, I’ll start training early and control my weight by not eating a lot.”
The world championship silver medalist added: “I started training late after the Olympics. The biggest challenge was getting back in shape, I worked on techniques, worked on strength .
“I was very good technically this time. The javelin is a technical event, so that helped me this time.”
😍😍Victory Lap of Champions at #DiamondLeagueFinal 💎🇮🇳’s @Neeraj_chopra1 wins his 1st #DiamondLeague Trophy… https://t.co/WU3ojRaiAT
— SAI Media (@Media_SAI) 1662668589000
Despite throwing constantly in the 80s, Chopra has yet to break the 90m barrier, but he is the least disturbed by it because he thinks winning matters the most.
“I’m not disappointed at all, it’s (90m) just a magic mark. It all depends on how you behave that day, how you handle the situation… If you hit 90m and you don’t win, then that doesn’t work either.” it does not matter..
“So there is no pressure at 90m on me, no disappointment, when it has to happen, it will happen.
“The important thing is that World Athletics is now taking note of Indian athletes and their performances.”
He added, “I want more Indian athletes to participate in the top tournaments, a lot of teams from other countries have participated in the Diamond League final. It will also help them in terms of experience.”
Chopra’s excellent running has made Indians now expect a gold medal from him every time he goes out to compete.
Speaking on the pressure of expectations, he said: “The problem is that everyone wants the gold. You have to understand from deep within that athletics events involve intense competition. There are already a lot depression.
“I just gave 100% that day. When I won silver at the World Championships, a lot of people came to me asking ‘why silver this time, why not gold’?
“I think it goes beyond the color of the medal, we also have to support our athletes, and not just focus on the medal.”
Downplays ‘India’s Greatest Athlete’ chatter
Is Neeraj Chopra India’s Greatest Athlete? Many, including the legendary Anju Bobby Georgemay have approved of this, but the javelin thrower is too modest to read much into it.
“I don’t think I should think about it, it’s up to people to think…they have their personal opinions…I won’t say anything about it,” he said.
On Thursday in Zurich, Chopra started with a foul but took first place with a throw of 88.44m – his fourth career best – on his second attempt, and it turned out to be his winning effort.
He shot 88.00m, 86.11m, 87.00m and 83.60m on his next four throws.
Asked about the foul throw on the first attempt, he said: “He slipped yesterday so I foul. I was doing well in the warm-up and the consistency was good. I wasn’t happy 88.44, but it was the last competition of the season, so I was a bit tired. But I was focused on doing well.”
When asked how he enters his zone when competing in high-level tournaments, he replied: “When I enter the court, I automatically enter a zone. Years of training help there. It’s automatic mode, not manual.”
Is the International Olympic Committee (IOC) threatening to ban the Indian Olympic Association affect athletes, Chopra said, “It doesn’t matter much, but I trust the people at the helm to handle the situation.”
Chopra also asked officials to ensure that all Indian athletes are regularly sent for international tournaments and world-class competitions.