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Neeraj Chopra leads the way at the Federation Cup, despite difficult conditions in Bhubaneswar – Firstpost

Just five days after opening his season at the Doha Diamond League and in the midst of a tight schedule that included several hours of promotional filming and commercial commitments that left him no time to train for his first tournament in India in three years, Neeraj Chopra not only won gold. upon his return but left an indelible impact.

This time, not through his performance but with his words, his actions and the response he got from the fans.

It started with another major delay – just hours after missing the scheduled press conference on the eve of the competition. The mood changed once his three-car cavalcade entered the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. Everyone waiting to get a glimpse of the javelin superstar raced to record something memorable, but only a select few were able to get close with an unprecedented level of security.

Nonetheless, his first few minutes were spent only on handshakes and selfies before resting on the track, warming up and starting throwing javelins. It ended early, however, as a few minutes of warming up was deemed sufficient while his entourage and coach Dr. Klaus Bartonietz kept a close eye on Neeraj and everyone else trying to get close to the Olympic champion.

The scene of action moved from the warm-up zone to the main Kalinga stadium. Neeraj would win gold with a throw of 82.27m, but the devil is in the details. He only made four attempts and struggled as the wet conditions drained his energy.

Manu DP gave tough competition to the reigning world champion and led after the first three attempts before Neeraj, as usual, found that clutch throw which didn’t make history in terms of distance traveled but which was effective as always to deliver another gold medal.

All this while Neeraj was cheered on by a group of passionate and noisy fans who were seated right behind the action zone and left no stone unturned to make it a memorable experience for an athletics event in India.

In fact, it was one of the most candid things Neeraj admitted during the post-match media interaction. That he didn’t “enjoy playing” in the Federation Cup due to the difficult and risky weather conditions, but the public support was worth it.

“The results don’t matter because Paris (Olympics) is the most important. Even though my throws weren’t the best, I really enjoyed the atmosphere,” he said.

He also regretted not being able to meet and greet several supporters who came to the sports complex to interact with him.

“I feel good that people are greeting me, but I also understand that there can’t be many people in the training area,” he added.

That’s largely all Neeraj talked about himself before dropping a few gems for India’s aspiring athletes which should surely benefit the upcoming sportspersons but also highlighted the importance of having a champion in your midst.

“Remember the Germans. When (Andreas) Hofmann, (Thomas) Rohler, (Johannes) Vetter and (Julian) Webber were competing, they were pushing each other and touching 90m at their national championships. So when competing in the World Championships and the Diamond League, the Germans always finished first or second. Similarly, if we can push each other (himself, Kishore Jena and Manu) and throw more than 85m, we will enjoy competing together in international competitions,” he said while emphasizing the need to have a strong team and culture.

Neeraj then shared the secret of not getting overwhelmed by big occasions and tough competitions.

“First and foremost (on big stages) you have to remember what you did in training. In athletics, when you are competing with others, you are also competing with yourself. We have to try to do at least what we managed on the training ground. Previously, my competitors would end up breaking the 90m mark on their first attempt while I only touched 86m, but that didn’t mean I should stop trying as the medal chances were almost over. You have to realize what you can do. Of course you have to push yourself to give your best, but if I do what I can, I’m satisfied.

And it wasn’t just limited to the playing field, there were life and financial lessons too.

“Once we have more medalists, the atmosphere will change (in India). We must learn to manage the money we earn. Once we have the money, we build a house, buy a car and fulfill our wishes, but in athletics there is not much money, so no matter how much money you make, you have to manage it well to ensure your future,” he previously advised. embarking on the journey to defend his Olympic crown.

Defending Olympic gold in the individual event has never been achieved by an Indian and even though Neeraj is a hot favourite, there is no guarantee that the results will be what we want. But his words were the perfect motivation one could find for the next generation – it was possible that many would be present in the crowd to support him at the event.

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