Friday, March 1, 2024

Here’s how Neeraj Chopra achieved best fitness ahead of historic feat

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Becoming a champion is a journey that demands immense sacrifice and effort, a truth epitomised by Neeraj Chopra’s career. In the men’s javelin throw qualification at the World Athletics Championships 2023, Chopra threw an impressive 88.77 metres and eventually won Gold with a throw of 88.18 metres. This was a marked change from his performance at the Lussane Diamond League in June 2023, an improvement credited to his meticulous recovery from a major injury that led him to miss the crucial Commonwealth Games in 2022.

What was the nature of Neeraj’s injury? According to Klaus Bartonietz, a sports scientist, it was a strain in the adductor muscle located in the groin area, which happened during a throwing session in May and came as a ‘bit of a shock’.

Ishaan Marwaha, Neeraj’s physiotherapist since 2017, spoke to an Indian daily following Chopra’s qualification for the javelin throw final on Friday, 25 August 2023. The final will take place on Sunday, 27 August 2023. To recover, Neeraj underwent treatments like ice baths and contrast baths. “In four weeks we accomplished 3-4 strong sessions. He’s now more confident in his running speed and crossovers compared to how he was in Lausanne,” Marwaha noted.

Why did Neeraj sustain this injury? Marwaha explained that it is due to the angle of Neeraj’s right ankle during his cross-step movements. Efforts are underway to correct this and prevent future strains on the adductor muscle.

For his part, Neeraj has displayed remarkable self-discipline. Marwaha remarked, “This season, I don’t think he’s had any sugar. He’s also avoided aerated drinks for a year.”

As for his training regimen, Neeraj starts his competitive season with four to five weeks of gymnastics, focusing on various aspects of strength. This is followed by weightlifting sessions. With a personal best of 89.94 metres, Neeraj aims to break the 90-metre barrier, a goal that Marwaha believes is attainable given Neeraj’s growing mental calmness.

Marwaha summarised, “He knows he can pull off a big throw in crunch situations. This belief sets him apart from other athletes.” Neeraj Chopra, along with fellow Indians DP Manu and Kishore Jena, will be competing in the javelin throw final. Chopra has his sights set on a gold medal, an achievement no Indian has managed before.

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