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Monday, September 20, 2021

Elasticity, perfect angle, speed: What worked for Neeraj Chopra

Neeraj Chopra’s throws were flatter than most and it helped in the javelin travelling further.

Written by Nihal Koshie |
Updated: August 8, 2021 11:42:29 pm
Neeraj ChopraNeeraj Chopra, of India, competes in the men's javelin throw final at the 2020 Olympics. (AP Photo)

He is not the strongest or the tallest but Neeraj Chopra’s supreme athleticism and elasticity makes him a special talent, says Dr Klaus Bartonietz, the German biomechanical expert who has trained India’s first ever gold medallist in track and field.

Dr Bartonietz breaks it down in simple terms when he says Chopra is the ‘dhanush’ (bow) and the javelin is the arrow.

All-round athlete

Neeraj Chopra did some sprinting and some jumps to ensure he retained his explosiveness before the final, says Dr Bartonietz.

“His biggest strength is his athleticism I would say. He is an all-round athlete who specializes in the javelin but his body capacity is such that (he is good at) sprinting, jumping and lifting.

Speed on the runway

The bigger they are the harder they fall. Germany’s Johannes Vetter lost rhythm, looked ungainly and twisted his ankle in his second throw. “We know Vetter is a great athlete and he has 90-plus throws but he faces technical problems,” Bartonietz says.

What made Neeraj stand out was the speed on the runway. “He was the fastest on the runway. He has to gain energy and then put that energy into the javelin. When you are slow it is hard to do that.”

Elasticity over power

Chopra is muscular and lean but his elasticity is what really helps him. “You need to get the energy into the javelin. For that you have to have a strong block. Vetter is a great blocker. Neeraj is able to bend like a bow. His body elasticity goes into the javelin. It is not just brutal power.

Angle of release.

Chopra’s throws were flatter than most and it helped in the javelin travelling further. “If you see, some of the throwers threw very high. Then the javelin comes down faster, five metres more in height than five meters in length. You need to get into some body positions so you can work (release) in a more horizontal way. His angle was 36 to 34 degrees.

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