While the Olympic challenges of other contenders such as Anderson Peter, Keshorn Walcott, Bernhard Seifert, Marcin Krukowski, and Julius Yego faded under the unforgivable Tokyo afternoon heat and humidity, India’s Neeraj Chopra made a comeback before the qualifying stage and in Saturday’s final. Enter easily. Throw of 86.65 meters. On Wednesday, he needed a single throw to make the cut at 83.50m.
While the distance of his throws put him at the top of the qualification in terms of distance, the debutante was circumspect about his performance, stating that the real competition would take place on Sunday.
As a 23-year-old competing in her first Olympics, were there butterflies flying in her belly on Wednesday?
“Panic? I don’t know, everything is over on the runway. When I stood on the runway today, all was well. (When I walked on the runway for my first throw, everything else faded into the background) , ”he told reporters in Tokyo after his qualification. “When I am about to throw now, I don’t think much about unimportant things. I’m not obsessed with whether I can throw fouls.”
The only real difficulty Neeraj faced was the extreme heat, which affected others as well. And getting up at 5 a.m. to compete, something he’s not used to doing.
After getting up early, he had to come to the venue about two and a half hours before his program. Arriving at the Olympic Stadium, he shoved his shoulder through three or four warm-up throws at the practice ground on the edge of the main stadium.
“The first warm-up throw was not good, but the next throw was,” he said. His coach, biomechanics specialist Klaus Bartonitz, told him he needed better follow-through on his throws. In the warm-up, Bartonitz told Neeraj that his body was going sideways after throw which was preventing his full power from flowing into his throw. Once that tweak was made in time for the qualification throw, “it flew well,” he said.
Flying well is an understatement. That one throw gave him an automatic qualification into the final, helping him overcome the struggles of other throwers, including Johannes Vetter, at the Olympic Stadium.
His philosophy was simple: throw flatter, so that the javelin would not encounter so much wind resistance that stadiums such as Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium produce.
The waiters, who have recorded seven throws of over 90m this year, struggled on Wednesday. His first throw was 82.04m and his second was 82.08m. He took his third and final throw (85.64m) to go past the automatic qualifying mark of 83.50m.
“I was wondering what the problem was when I saw that the waiter, who is also a world-class thrower, was struggling a bit,” said Neeraj, even as the waiter left for his third attempt. prepared for Neeraj stopped to watch the waiter’s third throw on the television screen nearby in the mixed area.
The two shared short excerpts of the conversation as they heated up for their qualifying throw. He talked about the heat (what else!) The German thrower joked with the Indian that he would get used to the conditions, given how hot it is in India.
Neeraj revealed, “I said no, I am also coming from Sweden so I am also suffering from the heat.”
In the coming days, as time ran out for Saturday’s showdown, he said he would cut down on distractions at the Games Village.
“I haven’t spoken to or met any celebrity in Athlete Village. Our event is about to end and so I need to stay focused. If your event is in the beginning and you finish it then you can take some rest but our event is always at the end and that’s why I try not to move around or meet anyone.
The one distraction he has taken care of in the lead-up to these games is getting rid of the long locks that have been his signature look over the years.
“I got my hair cut because it was too long. It kept falling on my eyes and the weather was so bad too. I was still upset in qualification with this short hair. Long hair means more sweat. I used to pay a lot of attention to my hair and how to manage it,” he added, “I loved my long hair. But it will grow back. Olympics will come again only after three years.