Athletics-Staying injury-free is priority for world champion Chopra

By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Olympic and world javelin champion Neeraj Chopra will give his all at the Diamond League final later this month and at the Asian Games that follows but finishing the season injury-free is high on his agenda, the Indian athlete said on Friday.

The mop-haired 25-year-old became the first Indian to win a gold medal at the World Athletics Championships, throwing 88.17 metres to secure victory in Budapest on Sunday.

He followed it with a more modest 85.71 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich on Thursday to finish behind Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch (85.86).

"In events like Olympics or World Championships, you have to give 100 percent," Chopra, whose personal best remains 89.94 metres, told reporters.

"I had already qualified for the Diamond League final, so I could afford to take it slightly easy here.

"I am tired, and I did not want to push myself too much and risk injuries. Sometimes it's important to enjoy the competition too."

With two key events lined up, Chopra said he was planning to get the best out of the final segment of his season.

"The Diamond League final is on Sept. 16-17, so I don't have much time. There will be plenty of travel, and adjusting to time zones is also a challenge.

"The target is to do well in both competitions.

"The most important thing is to finish the season injury-free, so I can start preparation for the next season early."

Chopra is yet to breach the 90-metre mark, but his consistency has stood him in good stead in big events.

"Obviously I'm not very happy with the distance, because I had three 89-metre throws last year.

"But I'm happy to have won the World Championship gold. I believe winning the title or the gold medal matters more.

"You can never be happy with distance, there is always room for improvement. I would keep working hard to improve my distance but I can do it only if I stay injury-free."

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Toby Davis)