How Neeraj Chopra Overcame Odds for Gold

How Neeraj Chopra Overcame Odds for Gold

If Neeraj Chopra, India’s latest javelin World Champion, wants the crowd to cheer for him in Zurich during the Diamond League, he’s in luck. Gianmarco Tamberi, Italy’s high jump World Champion, has promised to support him.

Gianmarco told me that he’d cheer for me with the crowd tomorrow,” Chopra said at the press conference on Wednesday.

Tamberi quickly agreed and said he’ll get the audience in the Stadion Letzigrund stadium excited.

“I talked to him earlier in the car, and Chopra said he really wants to throw 90 meters. I told him anything is possible in Zurich because the crowd is amazing. I’ll be there for him, especially for the last two meters. Just focus on 89 meters,” Tamberi joked.

But after just four days from winning the World Championship, Chopra hasn’t had much time to rest. Two days of throwing in Budapest, the qualifying round on Friday and the final on Sunday, have left him feeling sore.

“I’ll do my best and give it my all. But you know, the javelin event was on the last day at the World Championships. I still feel some pain in my shoulders and back. My main goal is to stay healthy and give my best,” Chopra explained.

The 25-year-old is in Zurich to get points for the Diamond League final in Eugene in September. Chopra is the current Diamond League champion and is third in the points table (16 pts) after winning in Doha and Lausanne. He missed the chance to get more points because he didn’t compete in the Monaco Diamond League in July. He was focusing on recovering from an injury before the World Championships.

Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch and Germany’s Julian Webber have been in three Diamond Leagues, including Monaco, and are first and second with 21 and 19 points respectively. Grenada’s Anderson Peters, who couldn’t defend his title in Budapest, is just one point behind Chopra in fourth place.

The top eight with the most points will make it to the final. But there’s more than just the $30,000 prize for the winner of the Diamond League. The winner can also get a special entry to the next World Championships.

Chopra is also thinking about his body because he’s the defending Asian Games champion and is supposed to compete at Hangzhou in October.

He had to do fewer events this year because of a muscle injury in May. Even though he’s recovered, he’s still worried.

“I didn’t compete much this year because of my groin injury. From May until the World Championships, I only did five or six throwing sessions, and not even full runs. The World Championships were tough. I was mentally prepared and tried a different technique. But it was hard, both physically and mentally. There’s a lot of pressure and expectations in my country, and the World Championship is the only gold medal I haven’t won. Now I have the 90-meter mark. I hope to throw well in the upcoming competitions,” Chopra said.

Chopra’s long-time physio Ishaan Marwaha explained why the adductor muscle near the groin is vulnerable to injury.

“We’ve been focusing on the adductor muscle from the start of the season. It’s because of Neeraj’s technique. When he does the cross-step movements, his right ankle is a bit turned out. We’re trying to fix that with his coach, so that his ankle is slightly turned in during the cross step. That way, the adductor muscle won’t be strained too much. If it’s turned outward, it puts more pressure on the groin. We’re trying to make sure he doesn’t drag his right foot on the runway, but it’s going to take time,” Marwaha explained.

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