Still a 50-50 chance that I might go to World Championships: Neeraj Chopra

On May 2 this year, Neeraj underwent arthroscopy to remove bone fragments which were causing him discomfort.
Indian athlete Neeraj Chopra (Photo | PTI)
Indian athlete Neeraj Chopra (Photo | PTI)

PATIALA: Neeraj Chopra was flying high last year. A throw of 86.47 metres saw the Haryana athlete win the title at Commonwealth Games and he followed that up with 87.43 at the Diamond League leg in Doha. Not finished, at the Asian Games he threw even further, clearing a season’s best distance of 88.06 for gold.

On May 2 this year, Neeraj underwent arthroscopy to remove bone fragments which were causing him discomfort. The javelin thrower had to undergo three months of intense rehabilitation.

The 21-year-old, currently in NIS in Patiala, has started practice with the javelin. While he admits that participation in the World Championships is touch and go, his focus is on getting back to his best before the Olympics. On the sidelines of the Indian Grand Prix VI, this daily caught up with the Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medallist. Excerpts...

How is the shoulder currently and why are you here at NIS?

I feel much better. The rehab process has gone smoothly. I have just started throwing the javelin. I’m here to train under the supervision of my coach Uwe Hohn to avoid any further issue.

You were at the peak of your powers last year. How difficult is it to miss out on Worlds?

It was important for me to have the surgery. I wanted to remain pain-free so that I could concentrate on giving my best. I will visit the doctor who did my surgery (Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala) sometime next week. There is still a 50-50 chance that I might go to the Worlds but most importantly, I need to be ready for Tokyo next year.

How difficult is it to regain that groove?

It will come with time. I just need to be patient and continue working hard and there is plenty of time for me to get back to my best.

How did it feel to finally start throwing again?

I cannot begin to describe how happy I was after I finally held the javelin in my hands. It was like I had to be without one of the constants in my life and it returned back to me. The best part of my rehab was that even though I didn’t throw, I kept up my fitness and worked on my leg and core power. This will help me when I return.

You are remarkably positive for someone who was injured for so long. How did you manage that?

It was difficult. From the coaches, my support staff, parents and friends everybody kept giving me strength. I cannot thank them enough. But something that I have done since I was young is I’m self-motivated and that always keeps negative thoughts from entering my mind.

Have you had time to meet your parents?

I went home for a short while. It was nice to spend some time with them. It was not enough obviously, but an athlete’s life is full of such sacrifices.

You are the poster boy of Indian athletics. Does it put you under pressure?

It is a responsibility, more than pressure. I need to improve even further.

Have you set any aim for yourself considering the Olympics are just around the corner?

I have not set any particular mark. I will work hard and if I practise hard enough, anything is possible. I have already crossed 88m. 90m will also happen if I put my mind to it.

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