With Games debut on horizon, Neeraj Chopra working on perfecting release technique-Sports News , Justnewsday

By | July 12, 2021

With Games debut on horizon, Neeraj Chopra working on perfecting release technique-Sports News , Justnewsday

Neeraj Chopra, India’s best hope for an Olympic medal in track and field, plans to spend the next 20-odd days before his javelin throw event at the deferred Tokyo 2020 Games perfecting his release technique

Tokyo Olympics 2020: With Games debut on horizon, Neeraj Chopra working on perfecting release technique

File image of Neeraj Chopra. AP Photo

Neeraj Chopra, India’s best hope for an Olympic medal in track and field, plans to spend the next 20-odd days before his javelin throw event at the deferred Tokyo 2020 Games perfecting his release technique.

The 23-year-old thrower has identified the angle of his release as an area he needs to work on.

“In these last few days before the Olympics, I want to iron out the technical issues in my throwing. At the Kuortane Games in June, I realised that my throw was not my best one. There was a lot of height in my throw. At the Asian Games in 2018 too (where he won gold), I ended up giving the spear a lot of height,” Neeraj told journalists at a virtual press conference organised by JSW Sports.

Neeraj said that when the javelin strikes the ground at a near perpendicular angle, it means the throw had too much height. “My coach has told me that all the power I put behind my throw is being wasted when I do not release the javelin at the right angle. If the javelin flies too high, I lose out on the distance because that’s where the power goes.”

He said that he had more or less fixed the issue of a majority of his throws going to the left. “Earlier there was always the fear of my throws going out of the sector on the left. I’ve improved on that a lot. If I can get the angle right then I can get a good distance in Tokyo,” he added.

Neeraj is currently based in the Swedish city of Uppsala where he’s training at pole vault world record holder Armand Duplantis’ home stadium. He said that he was spending a lot of time visualising the competition at Tokyo Olympics which will be his debut Games.

In the lead up to Tokyo, the thrower has decided to skip the Diamond League event in Gateshead/London this month. With the Olympics in touching distance, the thrower did not think it would be prudent to compete, lest he pick up an injury.

Before the Kuortane Games last month, the 2018 Continental Cup was the last competition where Neeraj competed against a world-class field. He spent the following year out due to an injury, while 2020 was robbed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kuortane Games last month proved to be a rare opportunity for the javelin thrower to pit his might against that of the best in the world like Johannes Vetter, Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott, Grenada’s Anderson Peters.

“It was a new feeling to compete at Kuortane. I got the feeling that this was the first event I was competing in at the international level. A throw of 86.79m (which got him bronze) was not a bad distance. This was a new feeling,” he said before adding that he was throwing someone else’s javelin because his own got stuck in Stockholm and did not reach Finland in time.

At Tokyo 2020, reigning Olympic champion Thomas Rohler will not be competing as he is battling an injury. Neither will World Championships silver medallist Magnus Kirt. Neeraj’s biggest competitors then are the Germans Vetter and Andreas Hofmann besides Walcott and Poland’s Marcin Krukowski. Vetter, whose personal best is 97.76m, has thrown over 90m in seven consecutive competitions off late. The personal bests of Walcott (90.16m, which came in 2015), Krukowski (89.55m) and Peters (87.31m) are close to Neeraj’s personal best of 88.07m.

“Of course, there’s Vetter. But Walcott is a strong competitor too. He threw over 89m at Kuortane. Then there’s also Krukowski,” said Neeraj when asked who his toughest competitors at Tokyo will be. “But in javelin, medals depend on how you are throwing on that given day. So, we’ll see at Tokyo who is the best.”

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