Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra has returned to training after a brief break and the star javelin thrower has set his sights on the much-talked-about 90-metre mark. The 24-year-old who scripted history by winning Gold at last year’s Tokyo Olympics is currently training in Finland for the upcoming tournaments.
“I am really close to the 90 metre mark. That’s obviously in sight and I want to break that mark. Once that is done, I will probably set another goal,” Chopra told India Today in an exclusive conversation.
He clinched the historic Gold at Tokyo with a throw of 87.58m in his second attempt, while his personal best remains at 88.07m.
Inspired by Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, who won medals in multiple Olympic games, Chopra wants to better his Tokyo performance at Paris in 2024 but, doesn’t want to take too much pressure about it.
“I will give my 100 percent to win another Gold at Olympics. The result is never in our hands though. Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps have won medals in multiple Olympic games but, they have lost too. So, I don’t want to take the pressure of repeating the feat in Paris but, I will definitely try to better the Tokyo performance,” he said.
‘LIFE HAS DEFINITELY CHANGED’
Chopra believes that winning the medal last year has boosted his confidence and changed the way he used to approach the sport. However, he continues to train and prepare the same way with a single-minded focus on Paris.
“Life has definitely changed after the Tokyo Olympics. People in India have started recognising me. But, nothing has changed in terms of how I approach the sport. I still train the way I used before winning the Gold last year. One advantage is that when you are in a country like Finland people still don’t recognise you. It allows you to roam and train freely,” Chopra explained.
The athlete credits a part of his success to YouTube videos. Chopra revealed that he used to watch a lot of videos on YouTube to learn different techniques of javelin throw. He has recently launched a challenge exclusively on YouTube Shorts where fans can join him by doing the #JavRun and replicating his distinctive run-up before he throws the javelin.
Chopra is confident that more athletes from India can win medals in Javelin and other Olympic sports. He is also happy about the increased interest in Javelin.
“Earlier, people didn’t use to talk much about Javelin. Now, sports shops are running out of stock for Javelin. There has been a huge change in the way how people look at Javelin and other Olympic sports,” he said.
The 24-year-old will be in action at Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku in Finland from June 14. He will follow this with the World Championship (July 14-25) in Eugene, USA, and Commonwealth Games (July 28 to August 8) in Birmingham. Chopra will train at Kuortane Olympic Training Centre in Finland till June 22 to prepare for these tournaments.