My endeavour is to defend my Olympic gold in Paris next year: Chopra

New Delhi, Sep 1 (PTI) Superstar javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Friday said he will do everything under the sun to defend his Olympic gold in Paris next year and his World Championships title in 2025.

The 25-year-old Chopra on Sunday became only the third javelin thrower in history to hold both the Olympic and World Championships crowns after winning the worlds title in Budapest with a throw of 88.17m.

Asked if he can emulate the legendary Czech Republic athlete Jan Zelezny, who won three Olympics and three World Championships titles, Chopra said, “Everything is possible if I remain motivated and focussed in my game.” “My endeavour would be to defend my title (Mera koshish hai ki mujhe mera title phirse dohraana hai) and whatever hard work I need to do to achieve that, I will do.” Before Chopra, the iconic Zelezny and Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway had held the Olympics and World Championships title simultaneously.

Zelezny, also Chopra’s idol, clinched the Olympics gold in 1992, 1996 and 2000 while winning World Championships title in 1993, 1995 and 2001.

Thorkildsen won gold in the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Championships.

Chopra, however, admitted that it would be a big challenge to defend his Olympics gold in Paris.

“It was a big challenge to win the first title (in Tokyo), and it will be a bigger challenge to do (defend) it again because everybody will come prepared. There will be more pressure than Tokyo Olympics because there will be a lot more expectations than earlier, even I have my expectations.

“But the most important thing is to save myself from injury. I need to remain healthy and injury-free so that I can repeat all my titles.” The next World Championship will be held in Tokyo.

Chopra, who finished second in the Zurich Diamond League on Thursday, said he was having cough and sore throat before the World Championships.

“I did not want to say this earlier because people may think it was an excuse. But I was having cough and sore throat before the qualification round of the World Championships. I was having problems.

“I am still having problem in Zurich. My health was not 100 per cent. But, I will be all right, an athlete’s life is like that.” After a gap of just three days, Chopra competed again in the Zurich Diamond League and he admitted that he was struggling in the first three throws and was lacking in confidence.

He began with a modest 80.79m and then fouled his next two throws.

“Definitely, there was fatigue in Zurich. It was difficult to peak after the World Championships. There was a bit of a problem to warm up to my best level, it took time. I was not feeling that I had a proper warm-up and ready.

“I struggled in my first three throws, my run-up was not coming well. The throws were weak, not having full speed and I was lacking in confidence. I was even thinking that I may not finish in top eight after the third round.

“I pushed myself in the last three throws, not that I pushed my 100 per cent. But I got two 85m-plus throws.” Chopra pulled off 85.22m in his fourth attempt and then fouled the fifth one before coming up with his best of the day — 85.71m — in his last throw to win the silver medal.

He said he had the luxury not to push himself to 100 per cent as he has already qualified for the Diamond League finals in Eugene, USA, on September 16 (September 17 in India).

“I have already qualified for the Diamond League finals which is the main event. Sometimes, your body is not ready and if you push your body too much, that can create problems later on.

“I will push myself to 100 per cent in DL final in Eugene and Asian Games (starting September 23).” After the final in Budapest on Sunday, Pakistan’s silver winner Arshad Nadeem could not find his country’s flag initially. Chopra called him to join the Indian for a photograph.

“You have to admit that Arshad has done a big thing for his country by winning silver medal in the World Championships. I was feeling a bit bad as he was not having Pakistan flag with him at that time. He was also feeling sad. He got the flag later.

“I called him and Jakub also to have a photo together. He came readily and nicely.

“Every athlete works hard. Back home, people say it’s India-Pakistan, but whoever does well and wins medals, should be appreciated.” Chopra also said that javelin throw — men and women — has become one event which has seen global competition and not dominated by the Europeans only.

Chopra said he has realised his dream by winning gold in Olympics and World Championships and he wants to inspire the country’s youngsters.

Source: PTI News


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