Mumbai: During a virtual meeting with India's Tokyo-bound athletes on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra about the injury he suffered in 2019, due to which he stayed out of action. The PM advised the 23-year-old Chopra not to get bogged down by the burden of expectations and instead focus on his best effort at the Olympics.
Chopra had to miss several tournaments due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The star javelin thrower has been through a lot in the last couple of years, especially in 2019. He was forced out of action for eight months following an elbow surgery for the removal of bone fragments. The injury had struck just when the 23-year-old Naib Subedar in the Indian Army had gained a foothold among the top javelin throwers across the globe and was on the verge of getting past the 90-metre mark.
Chopra was born in Khandra village in Panipat, Haryana. He threw himself (besides the javelin), into the limelight when he won Gold in the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati, equalling the national record with a throw of 82.23.
Barely 19 at the time, Chopra set a junior world record on his way to winning Gold in the World U-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Sadly, he could not qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics because his efforts came after the qualifying period had concluded.
He threw the spear to a distance of 86.47 metres -- the season's best -- and struck Gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. A few months later, he went on to win another Gold, this time at the Asian Games in Jakarta, thereby rewriting his national record.
Chopra, who has been coached by German biomechanics expert Klaus Bartonietz, Gary Calvert and Werner Daniels in the past, is working with (former world-record holder) Ume Hohn -- also a German.
The spearhead hails from a farming family and is the eldest son in a joint family that was not even remotely connected to athletics.
As a youngster, Chopra took a liking to the sport while watching his friends practicing javelin throw on a visit to the stadium near his residence. He performed well and continued his journey with the sport. Today, he is at a stage where he carries medal hopes of more than a billion citizens of his country at the world's biggest sports competition.
With IANS inputs