Indian Grand Prix III: Neeraj Chopra hopeful of competing in three-four international events before Tokyo Olympics

Chopra said his focus will now be mainly on the release, adding that he will also work on the throwing angle so that he's equipped to tackle windy conditions.

Press Trust of India March 06, 2021 12:13:12 IST
Indian Grand Prix III: Neeraj Chopra hopeful of competing in three-four international events before Tokyo Olympics

File image of javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra. Image courtesy: JSW Sports

Patiala: Fresh from bettering his own national record, Olympic-bound star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is hopeful of competing in at least three-four international tournaments to "psychologically" prepare for his maiden stint at the Tokyo Games.

The 24-year-old star Indian athlete hurled 88.07m at the third leg of Indian Grand Prix here on Friday, bettering his earlier national record of 88.06m, sealed during the gold-winning effort at the 2018 Asian Games.

"Now the focus is on the Federation Cup in Patiala (March 15-18), then hopefully I will compete in the Diamond League and some other tournaments in Europe," Chopra said during a virtual press conference.

"Hopefully I will get some more international exposure before the Olympics. It's important to compete with international athletes in three-four events before the Olympics so that there's a normal feel psychologically," he added.

Chopra was throwing for the first time since he booked his ticket to the Tokyo Games with a throw of 87.86m in South Africa in January last year after which the whole of 2020 calendar was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cross wind also made it difficult for him but he angled the throw well and was pleasantly surprised to smash his own mark.

"It's always feels good to improve your record, even if it was for one centimetre. There was a lot of bad cross wind and personally I was not satisfied and expecting it to be in the 85m-mark as I was coming back after a long gap.

"But it was a good release, technique was also good. There was a good jerk and the spear flew well. I will try to use the same technique in next competitions. The aim is to reach 90m-mark by the end of this year," he said.

Chopra said his focus will now be mainly on the release, adding that he will also work on the throwing angle so that he's equipped to tackle windy conditions.

"I've been working with the coach on the release angle. Now the throw becomes straight."

Before the meet in South Africa, Chopra battled injury to seal a berth for Tokyo and he said it was tougher than the recent forced layoff because of the pandemic.

"I was coming back after a rehab. There was a fear inside as whether I would be able to qualify or not... But now I was relaxed having qualified for the Olympics. It's not much of a difficulty now."

Athletics Federation of India president Adilee Sumariwalla said they were in talks with their counterparts in Europe to finalise some exposure trips before the Games.

"We have been talking to our counterparts in Europe, Finland, Poland and across the world. We want to ascertain which place is safe for our athletes.

"They need to be stationed in Europe. We are trying which country will give Visa and is safe for our athletes. It's a complex process, we are working around it. We will have to wait and see," the AFI boss said.

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