BHUBANESWAR: Neeraj Chopra has a simple target for 2021. Break his existing personal record (88.06 m) and, if possible, breach the 90 m mark — the gold standard in men's javelin. To achieve that goal, he, along with other members of the country's elite javelin contingent, has been training in the city's Kalinga Stadium. In an interaction, the 23-year-old spoke about that goal, his preparations and his absence from social media. Excerpts:
On feeling the pressure to perform
I feel honoured that the country is showing faith in me for an Olympic medal. I never took it as pressure or anything.
On his preparation
Because of the pandemic, I lost a year without full training. Thank god, we have at least got the chance to start camp. It is now progressing in a scientific manner. I am looking forward to clinching a medal at the Olympics.
On goals for 2021
Want to proceed step by step. First target is to break my personal best and aim for 90m plus distance.
On India's standing in the world of javelin
Our current bunch is the best the country has produced. We are No 2 or No 3 in the world. We have challenged countries like Germany, Chinese Taipei and Czech Republic in different international meets.
On what his advice will be to new generation athletes
Do not hurry as patience is important, always look to set long term targets. In a lot of cases, junior athletes are facing a lot of injuries early on in their careers because of an overload in training. Try and avoid that. In the modern context, sport is very scientific and technical, so follow the guidelines put down by the coaches. Lastly, there is no shortcut for success.
On how tough it is to make a career in his field (athletics)
No doubt that cricket is the most popular sport in our country. But the attention given to other sports is changing. With the support of the Sports Authority of India, sporting infrastructure, coaching and support given to athletes has changed a lot. Many coroporate houses like JSW, Go Sports and a few others have come forward to sponsor. It's a very positive development.
On his absence from social media
Yes, I have not been active because of my training. I am also waiting for some achievement to post on my Twitter handle.
On facilities at Kalinga Stadium
Odisha came out in a very big way to support different sports. The infrastructure is of international standards and the hospitality is fabulous. Personally, I love the stadium as I set a new meet record during the 2017 Asian Championships. The state has been noticed by many in the fraternity for its unconditional love for sports.