The 23-year-old is gearing up for his maiden Olympic Games.

Neeraj Chopra is widely regarded as India’s biggest medal prospect in athletics at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The javelin thrower is currently in Europe in a bid to stay in shape ahead of the quadrennial event.

He participated in several international competitions, rubbing shoulders alongside some of the best athletes in his event.

A positive time in Europe

Neeraj Chopra has already participated in events in Lisbon, Karlstad and Kuortane. He delivered a gold medal winning performances in Lisbon and Karlstad. At the Kourtane Games in Finland, he came up against some of the best athletes in the world.

German Johannes Vetter, who is the favourite to win gold in Tokyo, came up with a throw of 93.59m to win the event. The Indian achieved a distance of 86.79m to clinch a bronze medal. That should give him plenty of confidence heading to the Tokyo Olympics.

Speaking about the event to PTI, Neeraj Chopra said, “I had a new experience in Finland. During the run-up, I felt the real experience of a top-level competition, the kind of natural feeling which gives you the best performance comes after you take part in a lot of world class events. For me, that was the only time.”

Competing in tournaments abroad due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a major challenge. However, Chopra is relieved to get some game time under his belt in Europe.

“I did not get good international competitions when I wanted and there had to be several changes in training and competition schedule. But, I am in a positive frame of mind because a lot depends on the performance of the day. I am just hoping to give my best and realise my dream of winning a Gold for the country,” he remarked.

Shaping up for Tokyo

Neeraj Chopra will not participate in any other competition before travelling to Tokyo on July 26. The 23-year-old has decided to pull out of the Diamond League at Gateshead, England.

“Getting the UK visa (to take part at Gateshead) was difficult for Indians due to COVID-19 situation in India. So, I decided to miss the Diamond League. There is no time for competition now. I can have some intensity training for another week. After that, I will have light training,” he said.

Neeraj is planning to work on his flaws, with the Olympics less than a fortnight away. “The performance in Finland (Kuortane) was also not my best, there were technical issues, the height of the javelin was an issue. My javelin could not reach the venue that day and I could not use it. I had to use another javelin,” he stated.

“At the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, the height of the javelin was an issue though I won gold in both. I am working on reducing the height of the javelin so that it can cover more distance,” he concluded.

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