When Neeraj Chopra Was Injured in 2019, Here's How a Sponsor Came to His Rescue
How JSW Sports helped Neeraj Chopra get his injured elbow operated and also planned his recovery and rehab.
Neeraj Chopra created history by winning the first-ever Olympics gold in track and field for India, at the Tokyo Olympics.
But go back a few years and the javelin-thrower's participation in Tokyo itself was in doubt when he injured his throwing arm's elbow just one year before what was the earlier date for the Olympics.
Just when the qualification events for the games were to begin, Neeraj had to take a call, in May 2019, to either go in for surgery or participate in Olympics qualifiers and risk further injury that would surely rule him out of the big event, that was to take place one year later.
A call to his sponsor JSW Sports resulted in a trip to Mumbai to consult a top doctor, and surgery just one day later.
"When Neeraj had his elbow injury, he picked up the phone and told us he wanted to have it looked at. He was flown to Mumbai and was shown to Dr (Dinshaw) Pardiwala who suggested surgery and the next day, Neeraj was in surgery. It was all very quick because we knew we didn’t have so much time to waste in an Olympic cycle," said Manisha Malhotra, Head of Sports Excellence and Scouting at JSW Sports.
With his surgery complete, JSW Sports then went about streamlining Neeraj's recovery and rehab over the next few months, a lot of which he spent with experts at their Inspire Institute of Sports campus in Karnataka.
"The rehab that followed was very focussed and done in a very time-bound where we knew we had to get him back by a certain date and we needed him in optimum shape. He also worked with Spencer who is our strength and conditioning expert at the Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS). To be able to get Neeraj into the best shape of his life has been a team effort,' added Manisha while speaking to The Quint.
While JSW-Sports assisted Neeraj's campaign, the Government of India's TOPS scheme was the driving force that helped him bag the gold medal in Tokyo.
According to a document shared by the Sports Authority of India, the government spent Rs 4.85 crore on Neeraj for his training and competitions overseas for the 450 days leading up to the Tokyo Olympics. He participated in 26 competitions in the current Olympics cycle and set up overseas training camps in South Africa, Poland, Turkey, Finland, Czech Republic, and Sweden.
While javelin throw legend Uwe Hohn had been initially signed on as Neeraj's coach in October 2017, Dr Klaus Bartonietz replaced him in late 2019 following Neeraj's elbow surgery. The two have since been working together, with the government document saying they spent Rs 1.22 crore as his salary to date.
The other member of Neeraj's contingent though is on JSW's payroll. Ishaan Marwaha, his physio since before the 2018 Asian and Commonwealth Games, was a big part of Neeraj's rehabilitation after the 2019 elbow surgery and also going into the Olympics.
"Yes, he is our employee. Neeraj has a certain way he likes to be stretched and there's certain way his recovery works and now Ishaan knows his body better than anybody. I think Ishaan has played a big part in keeping Neeraj injury free," JSW's Head of Sports Excellence and Scouting Manisha Malhotra told The Quint.
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