In his second attempt in the men's javelin throw finals, Neeraj Chopra hurled the spear 87.58m away and secured the first-ever Olympic gold medal for India in athletics. And if anyone can take the most pride in the 23-year-old's success, it has to be Klaus Bartonietz, the biomechanics expert who trained Chopra.
A day after the historic victory, Bartonietz said that he was overjoyed. "Joy for Neeraj that he could win not just bronze, but gold. He became the best javelin thrower in the world," the German said in a video clip tweeted by the Athletics Federation of India.
Who Is Klaus Bartonietz?
A biomechanics expert from Germany, Bartonietz has been working with Neeraj Chopra along with Uwe Hohn since 2018. However, last year he took complete charge of training Chopra for the Tokyo Games after Hohn and Chopra parted ways. Although Chopra had won gold medals in both Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018, under the tutelage of Uwe Hohn, the javelin thrower from Haryana felt he need a change in his training method, as told by an AFI official.
Thus began the journey of Neeraj Chopra and Klaus Bartonietz. The German has been beside Chopra through the most challenging time in his career. In 2019, an injury to his throwing arm's elbow ruled Chopra out for almost a year. Bartonietz and his team had to work tirelessly to build Chopra from the ground up. On his return from injury, Chopra hurled a massive 87.86m throw in his first competition, securing a ticket to Tokyo.
An Inseparable Duo
However, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted Chopra's Olympic preparation and prohibited him from participating in any tournament last year. But the Chopra- Bartonietz duo has been inseparable. Bartonietz spent the lockdown with Chopra, polishing the athlete's natural body flexibility. After the lockdown, they spent a few months more at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala before moving to Europe for a short competition trip leading to the Olympics.
All the hard work and preparation came together for Neeraj Chopra and Klaus Bartonietz at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 7. The speed and body elasticity of Neeraj, polished by the German biomechanics expert, saw Neeraj's spear land the farthest. With it, the 23-year-old secured India's first second-ever individual gold medal, the first-ever in athletics.