Dose the Seine, in Paris, stink? Well, an unambiguous answer to that is that it can be odoriferous, intermittently but unmistakably.
Reigning Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra said that the focus is on recovering from the fatigue after competing in three events in a span of six days and return to full fitness as he aims at defending his crowns at the Diamond League final in Eugene and the Asian Games in Hangzhou over the next few weeks.
Chopra, who finished second in Zurich on Thursday night conceded that he was struggling to warm-up through the first three attempts, and as such he had no plans to go for his personal best or the magic figure of 90 metres.
“It’s like three competitions (the qualifying event and the final of World Championships and the Diamond League) in six days, plus the travel from Budapest to Zurich. Fatigue had definitely set in. Unlike in the World Athletics Championships, where you represent the country and focus on giving more than your 100 percent, in Zurich I wanted to enjoy the competition as I had already qualified for the Diamond League final, so the plan wasn’t to push myself,” Chopra said while responding to a question from The Statesman.
“Maybe for the first time I needed these many warm-up throws. I did regular warm-up for a while and then with the javelin as well. It was tricky getting used to the conditions. I struggled in the first three throws, I wasn’t able to run properly. I didn’t think I was ready. By the fourth throw, I had to push myself to do enough to be competitive. The aim here was mostly to remain competitive,” he added.
The Panipat lad started off with a modest 80.79 metres and followed it up with two consecutive no marks. However, in the fourth round, Chopra produced 85.22 to finish in the top three at the end of the fifth round. And on the final attempt he managed to get to the second spot with an effort of 85.71m.
Chopra bagged seven points for his second place finish in Zurich. He had skipped Monaco towards the end of July as he was saving himself for the World Championships with an adductor strain still a worry.
In fact, Neeraj also revealed that he was not 100 percent at the events.
“I did not want to say this earlier because people may think it was an excuse. But I was having a cough and sore throat before the qualification round. I was having problems. I am still having problems in Zurich,” he said.
The 25-year-old, who was troubled by shoulder pain and a groin injury that led him to miss several competitions, now hopes to rest for a couple of days before returning to training for the Diamond League Final and the Asian Games.
“The Diamond League final in Eugene is on September 16 & 17 and the Asian Games, the next week. It will involve a lot of travel. I want to play both the competitions well and without any injury. But the focus is on ending the season injury free and starting the next season early,” he said.
“There’s not much time left now, I will have to prepare myself well. There is a big time difference and I will try my best,” he added.
Chopra said javelin is a high-risk sport and he had found it difficult to maintain peak fitness between strenuous travel commitments and frequent competitions. “Many times you have to understand your body and see which competition is more important,” he said.
Asked if it will be more or less challenging to repeat his gold at the next Olympics, Neeraj said: “It was a big challenge to win the first Olympics title, and it will be a bigger challenge to defend it again because everybody will come prepared. It will be more stressful than the Tokyo Olympics because there will be a lot more expectations than before, even though 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,” Neeraj added.