In spite of full-throttle training at the moment, Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra feels that he needs international competition in the build-up to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The athlete is one of India's brightest medal prospects at the Games, which is set to start on July 23.
Neeraj Chopra qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in an event in South Africa last year, during his training stint in the country. In spite of that, things have been far from normal since he suffered an injury in 2019 that sidelined him for the entire year.
Just after he made the Tokyo-cut, the pandemic struck, which meant he could not train abroad, unlike other European athletes. While he was expecting things to change in 2021, the second wave of Covid-19 and travel restrictions imposed on Indian travellers by other countries have drained away his anticipations. With less than 80 days left for the Olympics to kick-start, Neeraj Chopra desperately wants international competitions to ramp up his preparations.
“It is getting difficult because along with training, I need competition. Most of 2019, I missed because of injury and in 2020 and 2021, nothing has happened because of Covid. How long will one be patient? For one year or two years. Last year, I thought I would be able to compete next year, but that is not happening,” said Neeraj Chopra, during a media interaction with SAI (Sports Authority of India).
“Even in 2020, some European athletes were able to train abroad but Indians could not. Now in 2021, the other athletes abroad are competing but we have not been able to. Expectations are also very high about a gold medal. If you want to perform at the world level, you need to compete against world-level athletes also,” added the Tokyo-bound athlete.