Level-headed Neeraj aims for Olympic glory

Commonwealth and Asian Games champion has no starry airs which was evident when he came out to receive a courier outside the main gate of the Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports (NIS).

Courier boy takes a ''proof'' snap of Neeraj Chorpa outside the main gate of the National Institute of Sports in Patiala.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

He is the poster boy of Indian athletics. Neeraj Chopra, just 20-years-old, has already bagged gold medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games. The javelin thrower, however, has not been swayed by all the success.

The young man has no starry airs which was evident when he came out to receive a courier outside the main gate of the Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports (NIS).

It may not be easy for someone used to signing autographs and posing for selfies, but Neeraj had no problems in following the rules. The stringent restrictions do not permit couriers to be delivered within the precincts of the NIS.

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Neeraj drove in his gleaming white SUV to the gate from outside the campus, to meet the courier boy who had no clue about the athlete, except his name!

"I don’t know him", said the courier boy, with alarming simplicity when queried later about the person to whom he had just delivered a packet.

Of course, it is not that simple for Neeraj all the time, as he is one of the most recognised faces in Indian sports.

Despite being so young, Neeraj has the ability to put things in perspective and stay focused on the task of qualifying for the Olympics and delivering the first athletic medal for the country in the quadrennial Games.

The process has already started as the athletics camp has commenced at the NIS with most of the prominent athletes.

Neeraj Chopra at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.   -  PTI



With winter round the corner, the chief coach Bahadur Singh talks about the need to have an indoor athletic facility at the NIS to ensure continuity of training for the athletes in bad weather.

On his part, Neeraj says that he does not have a target in terms of distance for the Olympics.

"I will try to prepare well and be at my best. The Olympics is the biggest competition in the world, even bigger than the World Championship. The whole world looks at it. I have no target for Tokyo, except to do my best. I know that the Olympic medal is the biggest for us, and that nobody has won it for us in athletics", said Neeraj, quite confident that the experience of competing regularly with the best in the world would help him top the chart when it matters.

The world junior champion did miss qualification for the Rio Olympics, and understands the unpredictability of sport.

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"When there is a bad performance, I only hope that people understand, and motivate the athlete rather than say that he is finished", he says as a matter of fact.

With the former world record holder Uwe Hohn of Germany — the only man in history to have thrown the javelin over 100 metres — guiding him, Neeraj is pretty clear that he has to just follow the instructions.

"In the Diamond league in Doha, three Germans had more than 90 metre throws. It was very rare. I was fourth with 87.43. I am trying to have consistent good throws", said Neeraj, who won the Asian Games with a national record 88.06 metres.

With a bunch of other Indian javelin throwers being inspired and following in his foot steps, Neeraj is confident that the event would become more popular in the country.

With the army, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and JSW Sports extending support, Neeraj says that it would be a "team work", with the common goal towards the Olympics.