Neeraj el­bow­ing his way back to form

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - [email protected] times­group.com

Chandi­garh: One of In­dia’s bright­est medal hopes for Tokyo Olympics is back on the train­ing ground with a brace in his arm, a steely re­solve in his eyes and a killer at­ti­tude.

“Jab tak aap 100 per cent nahi de sakte, toh koi fayada nahi hai kisi bhi com­pe­ti­tion me par­tic­i­pate karne ka. Mai sirf com­pete karne mey ya­keen nahi rakhta, mai jeetne ke liye jata hun. (There is no point par­tic­i­pat­ing in any tour­na­ment if you are not 100% fit. I don’t just com­pete, I only go to win, and noth­ing less),” said javelin thrower Neeraj Cho­pra, who will be skip­ping the World Cham­pi­onships in Doha, Qatar, from Septem­ber 27 to Oc­to­ber 6 ow­ing to a surgery on his right el­bow.

The 21-year-old from Khan­dra vil­lage in Pa­ni­pat, Haryana, knows in­juries and come­backs are an in­te­gral part of an ath­lete’s ca­reer. He is a tad de­jected over the turn of events but is optimistic about the fu­ture.

CLASS ACT:

“I am dis­ap­pointed. I was hit­ting all the right notes. I was also con­sis­tent, but you can’t plan for in­juries. I never wanted to rush my­self. There is still a lot of time for the Olympics and I am sure I will make the cut,” Cho­pra told TOI in an ex­clu­sive chat.

Four months af­ter his surgery on Septem­ber 2, Cho­pra has re­sumed his train­ing at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Sports (NIS), Pa­tiala, but the nig­gles are yet to go away. “It was the hap­pi­est day of my life when doc­tors re­moved the braces from my el­bow. I felt so free. Aisa laga ki khul ke saans le raha hun (It felt like I have started breath­ing again),” he said. I have learnt a lot in this pe­riod, both on and off the field.”

When asked whether he still feels the pain dur­ing prac­tice, he replied, “I have not started full train­ing yet, but yes, I can still feel the pain while throw­ing the javelin from a short run-up. I still can’t lift my el­bow to 90 de­grees. It will take time and hope­fully, by the end of this year, I will hit the ground run­ning.”

Neeraj’s Ger­man coach Uwe Hohn hasn’t yet ar­rived at NIS yet. “Right now, I am train­ing un­der as­sis­tant coach Dr Klaus (Bar­toni­etz). We are work­ing on my tech­nique,” said Neeraj.

“I keep in touch with Uwe sir over the phone and through mes­sages. He is keep­ing a close eye on my re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and prac­tice ses­sions,” said Neeraj with a smile on his face. De­spite the hype around him, Neeraj is not wor­ried about the high ex­pec­ta­tions. “I am ac­tu­ally not wor­ried about all these ex­pec­ta­tions from me re­gard­ing the Tokyo Olympics. At present, my only fo­cus is on mak­ing a strong come­back. Aur­rahibaatTo­kyoki,to­hwa­haanbhila tth gaad­denge (As far as Tokyo is con­cerned, I will prove my­self there also),” he said with a touch of Haryanvi fla­vor. the show­piece event. The In­dian had been given a firstround bye. In the evening ses­sion, Man­ish Kaushik (63kg) was equally ruth­less against En­rico Lacruz of The Nether­lands, win­ning by an iden­ti­cal 5-0 mar­gin. Another In­dian, Ashish Ku­mar (75kg), how­ever, lost to his Chinese ri­val 2-3 in a split ver­dict.

Dis­mal start by In­dia’s Greco-Ro­man wrestlers at Worlds:

In a dis­mal start for In­dia, all four Greco-Ro­man wrestlers in ac­tion on Satur­day ex­ited the World Cham

Getty Im­ages

Neeraj Cho­pra has re­sumed train­ing post surgery

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