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Neeraj Chopra Says Trying Not to Take Any Pressure While Remaining Focused on Tokyo Olympics

Neeraj Chopra (AFP Photo)

Neeraj Chopra (AFP Photo)

The qualification round of the javelin event is scheduled on August 4 and the final on August 7.

With his sole focus on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, one of India’s brightest medal prospect for an Olympic medal, Neeraj Chopra has clarified that he pulled out of the London Diamond League scheduled for July 13 because he does not have an UK visa.

“I do not have an UK and visa and it is too late to apply for one now. Applying for one is also a time consuming task and right now I do not have enough time to waste," Neeraj Chopra said in a press meet.

“I will have two more Meets to qualify for the Zurich final so I wanted to focus on the Tokyo Olympics, which is the main event of the year," he added.

When asked about the pressure of expectations on him, he said, “I could handle pressure well during the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. But the Olympics is altogether another level. I am trying not to take any pressure."

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Chopra also shared that his build-up to the Games has been quite challenging given the lack of competitive exposure but he is trying to stay positive for the big event. Chopra said he has missed the “natural feeling" of being in a world-class field, except for one occasion, in the run up to the Games which open on July 23.

That one time was the Kuortane Games event in Finland on June 26 where he won a bronze with a performance of 86.79m in a star-studded field comprising, among others, Olympics gold favourite German Johannes Vetter, who won the event with a massive throw of 93.59m.

“I had a new experience in Finland. During the run-up, I felt the real experience of a top-level competition, the kind of natural feeling which gives you the best performance comes after you take part a lot of world class events," Chopra said from his training base at Upsala, Sweden during an online interaction.

“For me, that was the only time," he added. Talking about the challenges that came with the restrictions that came into force because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chopra said he has tried to stay positive nonetheless.

“I did not get good international competitions when I wanted and there had to be several changes in training and competition schedule. “But, I am in positive frame of mind because a lot depends on the performance of the day. I am just hoping to give my best and realise my dream of winning a gold for the country." Chopra, who has pulled out of the June 13 Diamond League at Gateshead due to visa issues, has taken part in only three international events since June 10.

Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medalist also said that he has been working on his technique, especially the height of the javelin.

“The performance in Finland was also not my best, there were technical issues, the height of the javelin was an issue. My javelin could not reach the venue that day and I could not use it. I had to use another javelin.

“At the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, the height of the javelin was an issue though I won gold in both. I am working on reducing the height of the javelin so that it can cover more distance," he added.

Up next for Chopra before he leaves for Tokyo in last week of July as the qualifying round for the men’s javelin is on August 4, will be some intensity training.. “I can have some intensity training for another week. After that I will have light training."

Chopra also touched upon the Khel Ratna nomination during the meet, the 23-year-old said, the nomination will inspire to better his performance in the Olympics.

“It’s the fourth time (nomination). I could not get the award for three times, that means my performance was not good enough. So, I will have to better my performance in the Olympics to get the award."

(With PTI Inputs)

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first published:July 11, 2021, 17:10 IST