A sore throat, constant cough, and tired eyes were indications of the grind Neeraj Chopra went through in the last one week. And yet he ended his media interaction on Friday with an apology for not being able to answer more questions.
The newly-crowned World champion, who finished second in the Zurich Diamond League late on Thursday night, revealed he had been struggling physically even before the Budapest World Championships.
“I had a cough and throat pain before the qualifying itself but I didn’t say anything then because I didn’t want people to think I was giving excuses in case I couldn’t perform. But I can admit it now.
“The body is hurting, of course, but that’s an athlete’s life. There is fatigue obviously but in fatigue you have to understand your body. If you then try to push yourself too much when it is not ready, it can hurt you in the next event,” said Neeraj.
Having already qualified for the Diamond League finals in Eugene (September 16-17), Neeraj admitted his main aim to participate in Zurich was to simply get a feel of the competition.
“That is also important, to be there and spend time and back each other on the field. My main aim was to just do decently and enjoy the competition. At such events you can take it a little easy and it’s important to pick and choose events to go all out or work on technical points.
Next up will again be two big events in a span of 20 days — the DL finals and the Asian Games — and Neeraj is hoping to end the season on a healthy note.
“We have some time now to recover and get ready. It is important to stay healthy. There will be a lot of travel and the target is to do well in both events and finish the season injury-free so that we can start the next season early and in good shape,” he explained.
There is no lack of motivation, though, with Jan Zelezny’s three World and Olympic golds looming large.
“Anything is possible if you are focussed on your work. My effort is to definitely defend my titles. Winning once was a challenge but winning again will be tougher. There will be expectations from self and the people but that can be managed. Staying injury free is the biggest concern,” he signed off.