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And It Begins: Neeraj Chopra Set To Start Olympic Build-Up At Diamond League Along With Kishore Jena

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Doha, May 9 (PTI) Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra’s Paris Games preparations will be put through a stern test when he begins his season in the first leg of the prestigious Diamond League one-day meet series against a star-studded but familiar field, here on Friday.

The 26-year-old Indian javelin superstar, who is also the reigning world and Asian Games champion, will be up against the likes of former world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada and Olympic and world-medallist Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic.

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Asian Games silver-medallist and his compatriot Kishore Jena will also be in the fray as he makes his Diamond League debut. Jena has a personal best of 87.54m while Chopra’s all-time best is 89.94m, which is also the national record.
“I think I am ready for tomorrow. I really like to be consistent, it is one of my greatest weapons. I will throw over 90m but consistency is more important,” Chopra said in a pre-event press conference.

European champion Julian Weber of Germany, fourth in the Olympic Games and World Championships, will also compete in the 10-man field. The league will then move to Morocco on May 19.

Chopra is also the defending champion here as he had set the tone for his title-laden 2023 season with a victory ahead of Vadlejch and Peters.

“Success depends on team work. My coach and physio make immense contribution. The coach reviews my technique and we talk on what’s the best style for me. We also have a specialist for strength training. Planning has been key,” Chopra was quoted as saying in a Sports Authority of India release.

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The Indian had sent the spear to a distance of 88.67m then as against the 88.63m and 85.88m of Vadlejch and Peters respectively.
In 2022, Peters had delivered the fifth-longest throw in history (93.07m) at the Qatar Sports Club here.

Vadlejch, the Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist and 2023 Diamond League champion had recorded a personal best of 90.88m here in 2022.
Chopra has won three individual legs of Diamond League and lifted the champion’s trophy in 2022.

After this event, Chopra will compete at home for the first time in three years during the National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships to be held in Bhubaneswar from May 12 to 15.
Jena will also be taking part in the event. As per the schedule, the men’s javelin qualifying round will be held on May 14 and the final will take place on May 15.
Chopra last took part in a domestic competition at the same Federation Cup on March 17, 2021, when he won a gold with a throw of 87.80m.

After taking part in the domestic event, Chopra will compete in the prestigious Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland on June 18.
At that event, he will be up against 19-year-old sensation Max Dehning of Germany, the latest entrant to the 90m club.

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His goal for this season is to defend his Olympic title and to break the elusive 90m barrier. In an earlier interview to PTI, Chopra had stressed on the need to stay injury-free.
In the current Paris Olympics cycle, Government has spent close to Rs four crore to assist Chopra’s training, equipment, coach’s salary and out-of-pocket allowances.
He attributed his preparedness to the training he has undergone overseas at different international centres in Finland, South Africa, UK and Turkey at various times.

“After Tokyo, I found out how international athletes plan their schedule and choose their training centres so that there is minimum travel, quicker acclimatisation and proper diet leading up to a major event.

“These are finer details that I discuss with my coach and once a decision is made, we approach TOPS for assistance. It has worked well for us,” he said.
Chopra said adjusting to a proper diet has also been part of the that has helped him to get better.

“Yes, you have to get used to some bland food. Initially, it was tough when I was not getting Indian food but I have got used to this not-so-tasty food,” said Chopra, adding that his diet is largely vegetarian.

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