Without lance for 50 days, Neeraj Chopra stays gritty

CHANDIGARH Neeraj Chopra he has not held a spear in his hand for more than 50 days. India's leading javelin thrower is helpless, like thousands of athletes at the time of coronavirus pandemic.

One of India's best medal prospects in the Olympic Games , he was ready to give his best shot. The postponement of the Games has deferred that plan, but the man is looking on the bright side.

"I will be able to get more time to fine-tune some of my technical skills. I am looking at it as a positive in terms of my preparations for the Olympic Games ," Chopra, who is stuck at National sports institute in Patiala since he was forced to return from a training camp in Turkey on March 18, he told TOI. Neeraj, however, greatly misses his spear.

The blockade has made training difficult. We don't have access to the track. It is definitely not an ideal situation for any athlete, said Neeraj, who is focusing on working on his conditioning and fitness. I am using the hostel area to practice. I try to keep my routine as normal as possible and train twice a day, he said.

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A surgery on his right elbow had forced the 22-year-old from Panipat to miss the 2019 season just when he was getting into his groove. He had qualified for the Olympic Games on the first attempt, at the ACNW League meeting in Potchefstroom in South Africa in January, with a throw of 87.86m.

The past two years have been quite exciting. I had a good 2018 with gold in Commonwealth games and Asiad. But then I missed out on the entire 2019 season because of the surgery. I had a successful rehabilitation at Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary and at NIS, Patiala. The proof was that I was able to qualify for the Olympic Games in my first competition. So, while I was short of competition experience, I think I would have been ready for the Olympic Games had they gone on as scheduled," said Neeraj.

The only concern now is that staying away from the competition for a long time could come at a mental, mental cost. He said: This is a long break for me, but there are times when you cannot control the situation. As an athlete, I can focus on my training and maintain a positive mindset. Rest breaks affect the mentality of athletes, but we have to make sure that negative thoughts don't affect us. I am sure that all athletes around the world are doing the same thing right now.

Despite the hype surrounding him, Neeraj is not concerned with high expectations. He said: I don't take any pressure. I am honored and privileged that people have expectations of me. It motivates me to do well. Personally, I don't think about milestones or medals, but I like to take each competition as it comes and focus on giving my best.