Neeraj Chopra is one of India's best medal prospects at the Tokyo Olympics, but the star javelin thrower's preparation for his maiden Games is not the best that he had hoped as COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc. (More Sports News)
Chopra, 23, on Wednesday said that he is desperate for some competition ahead of the Tokyo Games given that two years have simply been "wasted" because of injury and the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I have the maximum focus and am training hard amid the uncertain times,” Chopra said in a media conference facilitated by the Sports Authority of India (SAI). “If I am training well, I can automatically stay positive and motivate myself. I also focus on my recovery and diet."
Chopra also also said that the coronavirus spread in the country affects the mind and as he continues to prepare fot the Olympics, he's stopped watching and reading news now.
"Of course, news of COVID-19 spread in our country affects the mind but I’ve stopped watching and reading news now. I’m placing sharp focus on preparing for Olympics," the national record holder added.
Talking about the lack of competition, Chopra said that he has "spoken to Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and SAI and they are also trying their best from their end if anything can happen and I can get competitions. Because, it has been over two years that I haven't played international competitions."
During the interaction, Chopra emphasised on competition, saying that training alone is not enough to fetch good performances at the big stage.
"...if we don't play competitions, then what is the use of the training. We are training from last year, but we need international competitions. If we are thinking about the Olympic level, then we also need to compete with those athletes.
"I don't have an experience of playing in the Olympics, this will be my first time," he said, adding that the COVID-19 threat is there for everyone.
Chopra said despite the negative environment created by the pandemic, he is keeping himself "positive".
"For every athlete it is becoming difficult. Along with the training, athletes are not getting competitions. I consider myself lucky that I played in a competition and qualified for the Olympics.
"COVID-19 has spread in our country and at the same time, we have to be positive and prepare for the Olympics. On (the other) side, a negative environment has been created in the country.
"It is becoming difficult, but we are trying to keep the focus, work hard, and help others. We have to continue with our sport and keep training. We still don't know whether the Olympics will happen or not, but we are training well," he said.
Chopra, who had smashed his own national record with a throw of 88.07m during the third Indian Grand Prix in March, also said the way his preparations have been going, "he is very close" to the 90-metre mark.
"I am ready (and confident) that I will cross the 90-metre mark this year," he said.
The star also revealed that he has taken the first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine and nobody in his family is affected due to the virus.