After Nearly a Year of Being Away, Olympic Star Neeraj Chopra Sets Comeback Date
Neeraj Chopra has not competed in any event since winning the Tokyo Olympics gold.
Neeraj Chopra, the first Indian track-and-field athlete to win an Olympic gold medal, instantly became the heartbeat of the nation on 7 August 2021 as he stood atop the podium after the men's javelin event at the Tokyo Olympics.
The achievement was rewarded and celebrated on Neeraj's return home, to India; in fact, the ceremonies continued for a few months as everyone wanted to be a part of history. The downside though? The 25-year-old could not return to training like many of his peers, and instead, fell sick, following events in the hot summer sun. Along with his team, Neeraj took a call to miss the final Diamond League event of the season, and instead, focused on returning to peak fitness and form, before making his comeback.
And this June – 14 June to be precise – the young athlete will return to competitive action at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland.
"I'm not feeling as much pressure right now. I can only focus on training, and right now, that is going well. But who knows, maybe a few days before the event I may feel the pressure," Neeraj told The Quint from Finland.
'Will Do My Best in Every Competition'
Neeraj won his Tokyo gold with a throw of 87.58 m, but his personal best – a bit higher at 88.07 m – was achieved at the Indian Grand Prix in March 2021. However, some of his main rivals, including former World Champion Johannes Vetter, have thrown well above 90 m repeatedly. In fact, going into the Tokyo Games, Vetter was the gold medal favourite, with seven throws over 90 m between April and June 2021. In fact, in May 2021, he achieved his season-best of 96.29 m. But the rainy conditions in Tokyo worked against him as the German was eliminated in the qualification round.
For 2022, Neeraj has set the 90-m mark as his target.
"That is my target for this year but I'm not focusing on getting it at the very beginning. Yes, I will give my best in every competition but who's to say if everything will go well on each day? A lot depends on the weather and the conditions, so let's see when I get a good result," he said.
As Neeraj completes the final leg of his training before his big comeback, the javelin star has now also collaborated with YouTube Shorts for a campaign to help his fans interact with him through the 'Jav Run Challenge'.
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