Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra on Monday admitted that he was in a quandary whether to go full throttle in Lausanne because he was returning from an injury and his fitness level was still not at the desired level.
The star javelin thrower clinched his second consecutive Diamond League title on June 30 by hurling the spear to 87.66m — an effort that was not close to his best in recent past. After the event, Chopra said that his next competition will be in Budapest. It means that he may miss a couple of international events before that. The Hungarian capital of Budapest will host the World Athletics Championships from August 19 to 27. The javelin throw competition begins with the qualification round on August 25.
”Overall, my fitness level was a bit low (in Lausanne). Because of the injury, there was a question mark on my mind also whether I am 100 per cent fit or not, whether I have to push myself or not,” Chopra said during a virtual media interaction. ”I need to improve my fitness, work on it (fitness) through training so that I can give my best at the World Championships and fulfil the dream of winning gold there.
”I need to improve my fitness, work on it (fitness) through training so that I can give my best at the World Championships and fulfil the dream of winning gold there. ”I will not say I am happy but I am satisfied with my throw (which is not among his 10-career best performances) under the circumstances — weather and that I am coming back from injury.”
The 25-year-old Chopra, who had also won the season-opening Diamond League in Doha on May 5, had sustained a muscle strain while training, which he had announced on May 29. He said saving himself from injury will be his main goal this season as three major competitions — World Championships in August, Diamond League Finals in September and Asian Games in October — are lined up.
”I have to go with 100 per cent fitness in these events. If I am not physically fit, I will also be not mentally ready. Not only the physical aspect, the mental aspect is also important,” he said. ”There is a lot of time now to work on my fitness and be ready for the World Championships and other major events. I have to go fresh and with perfect fitness in the World Championships. I will work hard whatever is required for a gold in the World Championships.”
Chopra has already got 16 Diamond League points after winning two legs, which should be enough to earn a place in the grand finale in Eugene, USA, on September 16-17. There are still two Diamond League events which have javelin throw on the roster before the grand finale — in Monaco on July 21 and in Zurich August 31.
Chopra, however, said that he has not yet decided whether to will skip the Monaco leg. ”There is still time before Monaco. We will see for up to seven days and decide on whether to compete there or not. If I feel that I am good and up for it, I will go there and compete.” Chopra is the reigning Diamond League champion, having won the trophy in the 2022 grand finale in Zurich in September last year. He revealed that he had gained a couple of kilograms during the one-month injury lay-off.