Focus on Neeraj Chopra as Olympic champ begins season in Finland

Javelin ace set for competitive action for the first time since making history in Tokyo last year.

Published: 14th June 2022 01:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th June 2022 01:12 AM   |  A+A-

Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra

Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra (File photo| AP)

Express News Service

Beginning a season is always tricky. It has its share of anxiety and challenges. If you happen to be an Olympic champion from India, the pressure would be immense as every performance would be scrutinised to the hilt. Neeraj Chopra knows that along with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold, he has added a few ounces of pressure. Yet, with his inimitable style, he has managed to thwart those demons.

On Tuesday, Neeraj would be competing for the first time since the final of the Tokyo 2020 Games on August 7 last year. The field at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, is as daunting as the one in the Japanese capital. Grenada's Anderson Peters is the season leader with a throw of 93.07m in the Doha Diamond League. Andreas Hofmann of Germany, who cleared 92.06m in 2018, has a season's best of 87.32m. Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic has thrown 90.88s in Doha. London and Rio Olympic Games medallist Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago, too, has entered. Julian Weber of Germany with the season's best of 89.54m is also in the fray.

In an interaction last month, Neeraj had talked about his fitness and he said he should be primed for the first competition of the season. In the first one or two competitions, he would be fine with throws around 87m.

"In the first one or two international events, anything around 87-88m would be good," he had said. According to his team, he is feeling fine. More than the field, it's the weather that could be a little challenging. There is a possibility of rain and for any javelin thrower, such a condition is not ideal.

But Neeraj is totally focussed ahead of the immediate test in front of him. As he had said, he would use the first two competitions as a platform to assess a few things here and there and by World Athletics Championships in Oregon and later Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, he should get into fine fettle.

The competition would allow him to settle down and fine-tune his technique.

"We will know what kind of training and practice is required to excel," he had said. 


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