I want to repeat the titles that I've won: Neeraj Chopra
The ace javelin thrower will look closely at a few takeaways from this season ahead of the Olympics year.
Ending the season that began in May and ran until October with him becoming the world champion and defending the Asian Games crown, Neeraj Chopra is finally back home.
Javelin throw’s global sensation looks forward to spending some time with his family and friends and feasting on home-cooked halwa, choorma and desi laddoo.
"Par jyada nahi iss bar (But not for too long this time)," Chopra said. "I tend to put on weight with that, and then getting it back down takes me a month or two. Thode din khaoonga daba ke (I'll eat whole-heartedly for a few days), and then I’ll gradually start training again.”
It hasn't even been a week since that dramatic evening in Hangzhou where, tested mentally by the officiating and pushed by compatriot and silver medallist Kishore Jena, Chopra walked away with a second straight Asian Games gold. Yet, India’s Olympic champion is already thinking about the Paris Games next year.
“I’ll rest a bit less this time," Chopra said in a media interaction on Saturday. “I want to get back to training as soon as possible for the next season and prepare for the Paris Olympics.”
Like he did at the Asian Games, defending titles remains a driving force for India’s reigning Olympic, world and Asian champion. “I want to try and do the same at the Olympics. I want to repeat the titles that I've won," he said.
For that, Chopra will look closely at a few takeaways from this season in which he competed in six meets and was satisfied in terms of medals won but not quite in terms of distances thrown. Chopra's season best of 88.88m came in Hangzhou, on the back of three 88m-plus throws and one each in the 87, 85 and 83 region. Last year, he had three throws of over 89m.
A groin injury in the middle of the season disrupted his flow, he felt. “Once that flow is broken, it gets difficult to regain it in the middle of the season in terms of fitness.
“Somewhere, I felt my distances could've been better. But everyone knows that I went through an injury and missed 2-3 competitions because of that. It was difficult coming back from that. But I'm happy that even after that injury, I could win those two titles,” Chopra said.
The hectic back end of the season — Chopra competed in four events in the last month and a half — made him realise that the “body can't work like a machine”. But even with that and in the mid-season injury backdrop, the fact that he won the Worlds and Asian Games titles makes him want to dig deeper to bring out farther throws next year.
“It made me feel that if I was fitter, I could've been technically much better and thrown longer distances. I have to find that in myself now, find my potential. Because I feel like I'm still quite behind that. And I have to work a lot to get there," Chopra said.
That will also put an end to a question that only sounds like a broken record now. “Start of the season, I thought I'll end the 90m question. Toh sorry, you've got more opportunities to keep asking that question for the next season,” Chopra said jokingly. “I've been consistent, but now my goal will be to cross that mark first, and then consistently throw 90m and above.”