From a village to the World Stage: Coaches Who Honed Neeraj Chopra’s Javelin Skills
As Neeraj Chopra wins the gold in Javelin throw at the World Athletics Championships 2023, a look at who his trainers and mentors were.
गाँव कनेक्शन 28 Aug 2023 8:46 AM GMT
Earlier today, Neeraj Chopra added yet another feather in his cap by winning a gold medal in the Javelin Throw at the World Athletics Championship 2023 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. This is the second biggest athletic achievement by Chopra who has previously bagged a gold medal for the country at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
A 13-year-old Neeraj Chopra was shown the way to the local gym by his father to see if he could shed some of his weight. That was his first introduction to physical activity that would later lead to his love of javelins.
The young lad watched in admiration as a few other javelin throwers practised at the gym. He tried to mimic them and caught the eye of Jaiveer Singh, a local coach. Had it not been for Singh, who knows, Chopra's prowess could have remained unsung. Chopra is 25 years old and his hometown is in Panipat’s Khandra village in Haryana. It was in Panchkula where he practised his throws initially.
Singh took the lad under his wing and taught him the right techniques to throw the javelin. The next step was to go to the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula to train further. There, the 14-year-old Chopra was coached by Naseem Ahmed who taught him the finer nuances of the sport and helped him develop a solid base.
Chopra’s first gold medal came in 2016, at the under-20 championship in Poland. His coach at that time was Gary Calvert, an Australian and his assistant Kashnath Naik. Calvert is credited with contributing to Chopra’s initial success in the sport.
Kashinath Naik, a bronze medallist in javelin throw at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, remembers Chopra as a promising junior athlete who, despite his slender frame, demonstrated immense energy in his throws.
Following his successful stint with Calvert and Naik, Chopra was guided by German coach Werner Daniels who prepared him for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Chopra won the gold medal there.
Between 2017 and 2018, the German athlete Uwe Hohn trained Chopra.
“I respect Hohn sir, I won the gold in 2018 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games under him. But his technical approach and style of training was different,” Chopra was quoted by the Press Trust of India.
It was in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that Chopra scripted history by securing India's first-ever track and field gold medal.
Chopra owed this success to another German coach named Klaus Bartonietz, who began coaching Chopra in late 2019 after Hohn’s tenure concluded. Bartonietz, reputed for his mastery in biomechanics, brought in changes to Chopra's technique.
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Biomechanics refers to the study of the structure, function and motion of the mechanical aspects of biological systems. Biomechanics in sport incorporates a detailed analysis of sport movements in order to minimise the risk of injury and improve sports performance.
Following Chopra's victory, Bartonietz famously remarked that Chopra was the best in the world.
"The joy I feel is overwhelming. It's a joy for Neeraj that he didn't just secure a medal; he won gold, establishing himself as the world's best javelin thrower," Bartonietz had said.
Bartonietz has a contract to continue coaching Chopra till the Paris 2024 Olympics.