Neeraj Chopra is the new superstar of Indian sports. He had long been a household name after his historic Olympic gold medal haul in Tokyo in 2021, but achieved this status through his medal-winning run in 13 events over the next two years, including a stunning top finish in the podium at the Asian Games in Hangzhou just a month ago. However, Neeraj humbly played down the invincible tag Day 4 of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit Friday and the pressure was on to defend the Olympic crown in Paris next year.
In 2023, Neeraj took part in seven events and finished on top in five of them and second in the other two, one of which he failed to retain his Diamond League title in Eugene after finishing second place The previous year, he finished first in three of the six events he entered and second in the other three.
When asked if the glorious run from 2022 has been undefeated on the world stage, the reigning Olympic champion said it was because of the wins early in his international career who emerged the champion. Neeraj also considered that luck is often needed to promote the best performance and explained the habits involved in moving from the qualifiers to medaling in the discipline at a major event.
“I have reached this stage through defeats. In 2017 I started competing in international events in Diamond League, so from 2017 to 2021, I kept losing. It was in 2022 Diamond League when I got the first position on the podium. So the winning didn’t start suddenly. In 2019 I couldn’t play the whole season because of injury, then there was Covid and finally we had the Olympics in 2021. So it started even that level is improving over the years. So this winning run didn’t bother me because I have seen wins and accepted that,” Neeraj told Hindustan Times National Sports Editor Ashish Magotra.
Given the benchmarks Neeraj has set for himself at India’s 1.5 billion people, anything less than gold feels a bit of a letdown, which is why when the gold standard finished second, struggling in the windy conditions at the Hayward Field, he accepted. some time to sink in. The thing that took money completely from his memory was that his best throw of 85.71m came in his last attempt. Moreover, it is worth noting that Neeraj has consistently played down the pressure to hit the 90m mark.
“Because you never know what happens in sports and even if you give it your best, another athlete might have a better day. There are a lot of things that are really out of our hands. Like when we go to competitions, 30 -35 athletes are part of the competition There is first a qualification round, from which 12 will be selected. Then four are eliminated after three attempts and in the end only three players won the medal. in the last two years, ” said the Indian javelin champion.
Neeraj also said that while defending his Olympic crown in Paris will be one of his biggest achievements, the challenge during the event will be to stay fit and injury free.
“Whenever I think about the Paris Olympics, my only thought is to do my best with the things I have learned over the years and the experience I have. So it will be a big thing for me to win the title defense. I’m in that zone right now. , I’m that age so if I can keep myself fit because the injury is the biggest challenge,” he said.
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