His cabinet might be brimming with titles but Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra feels he is yet to reach his full potential and has set sights on not only crossing the 90m mark but making it a new normal as he gears up for next year’s Paris Games. The 25-year-old from Haryana, who played most part of the season with a groin strain, won the World Championships title in August in Budapest, finished second in the Diamond League finals in September before coming up with a throw of 88.88m to defend his Asian Games gold in Hangzhou this week.
“I am happy that I pushed myself and ended with a season-best effort. But it also made me wonder if I were fit and 100 per cent in my technique then how long could I have thrown,” he said during a virtual interaction.
“So I have to find in myself what I can do, what mindset I can make that I can achieve my potential, because I feel I am still a lot away from that.” Claiming the World Championships crown and defending his Asian Games gold with a season-best effort despite injuries has been the most satisfying part, says Chopra.
“I am happy I won the world champion title and defended my Asian Games gold, so season was really good. But somewhere about distance, I felt I could have gone further.
“But I had injuries in between and I had to give up a few competitions but slowly I came back. But I am happy that I could win two titles despite injuries, which is a good thing.
“I had said earlier in the season that I want to finish off the 90m question, so sorry I couldn’t do it. Now, I guess I have given you the chance to ask me again about it,” he laughs.
Chopra has been carrying this burden of expectations of crossing the 90m mark ever since he returned with a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. While he came close, his closest rivals like Anderson Peters, Jakub Vadlejch and Arshad Nadeem have crossed the 90m.
“Since 2018, it was a possibility to cross 90m. At the Asian Games, I threw 88.06, then I had an injury in 2019, then Covid happened but I managed to qualify for the Olympics,” he said.
“In 2021 also, I had good preparation. In 2022 and 2023 also I threw close with 88 and 89s. So I don’t know, I am also waiting for that. I mean 90m is not impossible because if I am getting close, I can go beyond 90m, may be 92m or 93m.
“So it is not a question of 90m, now I am consistent at one score, so my main focus will be to first cross the 90-mark and then stay consistent in that score.
“I have to think about how I can improve my physical strength, see how can I push myself further in competition. Next year, there is the Olympics, so probably I will push myself more mentally.” Chopra had a controversial start to his Asian Games campaign when his first throw, which seemed to have covered 85m, went unmeasured but he managed to defend the gold with a 88.88m throw in his fourth attempt.
Chopra highlighted the mismanagement at the Asian Games, saying it reflects badly on an Asian giant like China.
“There were many things which happened bad for us. China has hosted some big events like Olympics, world championships and Asian Games and I think it will have some effect because World Athletics must have taken notice of it and I hope it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
“It is always difficult to get into that zone and for me it was a season end, it was a long season. So it is difficult to stay stable.
“At least 15 to 20 minutes were lost while talking to the officials, I had warmed up, so my body had gone cold. So when you are in a zone and such things happen, it can take you away from your focus.”
(This story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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