It’s a well-known phrase that has been used by sportspersons for years, “form is temporary but class is permanent.” But what does it mean? When we tweak this adage just a little bit and think about the state of mind in India as ‘golden boy’ Neeraj Chopra – you can get an idea.
For the only Indian male to have won two Olympic Games and Asian Games titles, he has been idolized by fans all over India. But what does Neeraj say when asked about how long this praise will last? He says that while it’s great for now, his ever-improving performances are more permanent than any temporary accolade could ever be!
The Olympic medallist says he feels threatened:
If the medal doesn’t come in future, the same people will bring you down and criticise, says Neeraj.
On Saturday, the ace javelin thrower, who will receive his Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award from President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, said he had faced pressure even though after accomplishing so much.
He added: “This looks strange sometimes that even if I put all my hard work and efforts into something then people can be quick with their praise one minute before switching gears to criticize.”
Sreejesh also directed Neeraj to concentrate on his game and not lose sleep over fellow countrymen’s expectations of his medals. The 33-year old veteran goalie responded to a question addressed towards the athlete, asking about wedding plans; Sreej told him: “Let him be who he wants – it should make for an interesting story if you win!”
How was the conversation going?
The entire exchange between these two exchanges demonstrates how important self-expression can get lost when we try too hard at hiding our true selves behind other identities or masks (a common occurrence in today’s society).
Sreejesh has predicted retiring before the next Olympics, but his focus is on winning another gold in Paris 2020. Neeraj, meanwhile, believes it’s essential for him not to get married until after turning 40 years old.
Hence, not distracting himself with planning weddings and other responsibilities when playing professionally is no longer an option due to age restrictions set by International Hockey Federation (FIH).
Having breakfast with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official residence was an experience they will never forget. After having a warm conversation about Indian politics, JVP brought up the topic of cuisine to show how much he appreciated all that India has given him over time.
“When I met ta Pakistan Chalen Mitra Bhaat Chole Aarambil Karor Maanein,” said Neeraj Goyal before bringing out some home-made choorma dish made by mom – “It’s one tuk tuk down memory lane!” He added as both chuckled away, remembering fondly old memories together across borders
“Sreejesh offered me choorma. I’ll treat him with the dish that his family has been cooking since forever, in order for people here and across Asia-Pacific to know about its real recipe.”
He continued: “The best moment was when our Prime Minister got on video chat after we lost against Belgium during semifinals; he called us up even though it wasn’t enough! That really made all of us proud because everyone likes winning but there are also those who will always give credit where due – like how you should be doing too!”
“The coach made us all stand on chairs and close our eyes. He said ‘Imagine you are receiving your medal, or an award for being so brave in the arena.’ It was before our bronze medal match against Germany which we won 5-4! The pep talk helped with motivation.”
Neeraj Barthakur recollected how Reid motivated them by having players imagine receiving praise from their countrymen after winning these Olympics.