June 9, 2023

Disha Shakti News

New Hopes New Visions

In an interview, 23-year-old Chopra spoke about what went right for him on his big day, the difficulties of coming back from an injury and how he peaked for the golden throw.

A day after his historic javelin gold, Neeraj Chopra was his usual happy self, smiling at everyone, shy in conversation, walking around the Games Village wearing a peach T shirt and blue tracks. On Sunday morning, the final day of the Games, the few Indian athletes and coaches remaining in the Village got together for the first time since the Olympics began, to cut a cake and celebrate.

In an interview, 23-year-old Chopra spoke about what went right for him on his big day, the difficulties of coming back from an injury and how he peaked for the golden throw.

How is the feeling the day after? Did you get any sleep?

Yes, I slept a bit.

The night before my event, I wanted to get enough sleep so I had proper recovery, but I could only sleep around 12:30am, then I woke up at 5:30 without trying to. I thought I’ll go back to sleep, but it didn’t happen. I had too much energy. So I had a light breakfast and tried to go to sleep again. I just couldn’t.

I am still processing the feeling. It has not fully sunk in. Maybe when I go to India, I will have a sense of completion and I will understand better how I am feeling.

How were the celebrations in the Games Village?

It was amazing. All the contingent members gathered. The hockey teams were there, boxers, some other athletes, and coaches were also there. They all clapped, not just for me, but all the medalists. Everyone had nice things to say, and how the experience of being in the Tokyo Olympics was for them. There was this positive feeling that the coming time for Indian sports will be even better. We are making progress in sports. Hopefully, we will keep getting better.

When you look back at last night, what clicked for you?

Yesterday was all about the work we put in for four years – this time for five years – for the Olympics, and how you compress that work into one day. On the day of the competition, there is a time where we can achieve our peak, but it is very tough and you have to put in a lot of hard work for that. But it was that time yesterday for me, where I could perform.

I stayed away from my phone, away from social media. Did not really want to read messages or talk to anyone. It was only a matter of 10-15 days, not a big deal. Kept my mind on training, on the event, visualized the throw.

After the event there was a feeling that a journey has been completed.

I feel this medal will help me to do better in upcoming competitions.

How did you actually get a start in javelin?

My uncle introduced me to sport because I was overweight as a child. I remember all those days going for training. I would just tell myself whatever is happening is fine. My job is to train and I will keep doing that. Now I feel that yes, it was a tough time for me but back then it didn’t feel so tough. I never thought I will stop. My life became occupied with only a couple of things: go to the stadium and practice, come back home, eat, then go back to training.

What did you do with the medal?

I kept the medal near me. There is supposed to be a box to keep the medal, but I haven’t got it yet. I kept it close to my pillow when I went to sleep.

You had a career threatening injury right when you were throwing at your best and winning gold medals everywhere – Commonwealth Games, Asian Games – you had to overcome that…

Injuries, I believe, is a part of the sport. At that time, I was worried about how it would go after surgery. It was my first surgery. I didn’t know if it would be successful or not or how the comeback would be. In our sport, the elbow is a crucial part (he had a surgery in the elbow of his throwing arm to remove bone fragments). If there is any problem with the elbow we can’t throw.

It took some time to regain my strength and range but I got good support from many people. Finally, when I was able to play, I qualified for the Olympics in my first competition.

It was a tough time, but I kept myself positive, which helped me. I told myself whatever body part I needed to work on and improve in terms of fitness, this surgery has given me the opportunity to do that. Slowly we worked our way out of it.

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