Dis­trac­tions gone, eye on dis­tance

Javelin thrower Neeraj striv­ing to achieve 86-87m mark con­sis­tently un­der coach Hohn af­ter shift­ing train­ing base to South Africa

The New Indian Express - - SPORT - KRISHNENDU BAN­ER­JEE

ATH­LET­ICS is a dis­ci­pline In­di­ans are not good at. The coun­try is still to win an Olympic medal in it. But come Tokyo 2020 and some­one will be hop­ing to break that drought. That’s javelin thrower Neeraj Cho­pra. His best of 88.06m was bet­tered by just five ath­letes in the world in 2018 and it would have fetched him bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The 22-year-old has im­proved steadily since shat­ter­ing the world ju­nior record at the 2016 U-20 World Cham­pi­onships with a throw of 86.48m. He won gold at the Com­mon­wealth and Asian Games and came close to fin­ish­ing third in an IAAF Di­a­mond League meet in Doha last May, where he fin­ished fourth. How­ever, at the World Cham­pi­onships in 2017, Cho­pra failed to qual­ify for the fi­nals, man­ag­ing only 82.26m. Train­ing at the fa­cil­ity of the North West Univer­sity of Potchef­stroom in South Africa un­der Ger­man coach Uwe Hohn, he is try­ing to achieve con­sis­tency. “If I have a throw of 90m in one event and don’t repeat that again, I don’t think it will help me. I don’t want to put my­self un­der pres­sure to throw a par­tic­u­lar dis­tance, but I have to con­sis­tently im­prove my throws. From 82-83 in 2017, I am cur­rently av­er­ag­ing 85. The tar­get is to throw in the 86-87 range,” Cho­pra told this news­pa­per from Potchef­stroom. The North West Univer­sity has housed sev­eral world and Olympic cham­pi­ons. It will be Cho­pra’s base till the end of March. “I have been work­ing on my core, strength and throw tech­niques. I haven’t changed any­thing in my train­ing reg­i­men. But I have been putting ex­tra ef­forts to bet­ter my skills. The cen­tre here is tak­ing care of my diet and nu­tri­tion. The sup­ple­ments that I take have also been taken care of.” Ac­cord­ing to him, fo­cussing on work can be a prob­lem back in In­dia at times. “The prob­lem in In­dia was that I was not able to con­cen­trate on train­ing as I had to at­tend fam­ily and pub­lic events. Here, I don’t have those dis­trac­tions. Fa­cil­i­ties are ex­cel­lent and I can fo­cus fully on train­ing. It’s been great train­ing un­der Hohn. He has helped me im­prove my strength and you can see that in the re­sults. I had a throw of 88.06m at the Asian Games and it shows the im­prove­ment I have made un­der him.” With an eye on Olympic qual­i­fi­ca­tion, Cho­pra is look­ing to do well in in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions start­ing with the Asian Cham­pi­onships in April, fol­lowed by Di­a­mond League in May. As both events will be cru­cial for him to at­tain World Cham­pi­onships and Olympic qual­i­fi­ca­tion marks, he has been ex­empted from the Fed­er­a­tion Cup to be held in In­dia in March. “All these events are very im­por­tant, es­pe­cially this be­ing an Olympic qual­i­fi­ca­tion year. The aim is to do well in all three to qual­ify for the Olympics,” said Cho­pra, who started train­ing in South Africa in Jan­uary.

Neeraj Cho­pra is cur­rently train­ing at the fa­cil­ity of the North West Univer­sity of Potchef­stroom in South Africa

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