Indian Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra talks to Gulf News: Let your kids play, give them options – Gulf News

In an exclusive chat, Olympic champion and star athlete discusses his life, sport, plans
Neeraj Chopra, 23 recently scripted history at the Tokyo Olympics when he won gold at javelin throw — India’s first Olympic gold medal in athletics. Gulf News caught up with the ace track and field athlete. Excerpts from the interview.
I didn’t know that much but I did feel that if in the Olympics I get the gold then it is a possibility, especially because there wasn’t a medal in athletics so far. The big thing was to get a medal, and since it was gold, I knew something different will happen.
Yes, this feeling had entered my mind that if after I win a medal children start playing javelin and start winning then my throwing the javelin will become successful and, also that for my sport and for my country I have managed to do this.
They are so happy. I haven’t really met them yet but whatever conversations we have had, they are happy that a child from their house has done so well.
Once all the functions get over, I will go home. I don’t want to be in a position that I go home and then suddenly a phone comes and I have, to go somewhere, that is not something I want to do. When I go home, I want to go and spend some time with them in comfort and peace.
This has been going on from the last year when we were training in empty stadiums, and I competed as well in these stadiums so somewhere I had got used to performing like that.
Due to Covid-19, people were not coming to watch, and players had to be mentally prepared as well. That had become a habit, so I didn’t find it too much of a problem.
I think in this our training plays a big part — what is going in our mind at that point, and what is going in our mind later when a competition is nearing. So, during training I don’t think much except about how to improve my game. Nor was I thinking daily that I should win the gold medal or that the country has expectations.
My thing is train well, eat well and recover well. The more you think about winning a medal, it becomes pressure. So, I tried not to think much and in the free time I only thought about the technique and how I can throw better.
On the day of the competition, I just thought this is the day that I have been waiting for such a long time and that today I will give my 100% no matter what. I did not want to have any regrets.
There will be some because I have won the gold and there will be expectations that I will win gold everywhere but I am trying to not let this enter my mind because training is in my hands, results we learn later and what is in my hands I will do well.
No, I am used to this life, and it has become a habit. I feel that if I want to go into all that like social media, roaming around or party that may, deep down, bore me.
For now, training and resting, this is the life I am happy with. But apart from javelin, I enjoy roaming around with friends, shopping, photography, driving a car — there is nothing I feel that I need to do.
My uncle — my father’s younger brother has inspired me from the beginning whether it was my life or javelin. So, he has been my biggest inspiration.
Yes absolutely — to the parents and even teachers in school. Children like to play in any case, and I would say let them play. Studies are very important but if along with it they are interested in sports, then they get options. Sometimes there are no options, and there is just one thing — that we have, to only study.
Everyone has a different talent and may want to use it in different things. It is not a given that whatever work you are asked to do, you will enjoy it.
Sometimes, to make your parents happy, a child studies but if she/he is instead interested in sports or singing and dancing, parents must understand that.
The writer is the author of the investigative book 'Stoned, Shamed, Depressed'. She was also a journalist with NDTV for 15 years.

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