Saturday, March 25, 2023

How Jan Zelezny’s Magical Run-Up Convinced Neeraj Chopra That He Can

Dear Readers,

Neeraj Chopra is on a pilgrimage these days and has been picking up dazzling mementos on this spiritual journey.

A few months earlier, while training in Turkey, he met Jan Selezny, the supreme god of the faithful spear. The other day, he was in Turku, Finland, the country where javelin throwing is a national pastime and the very popular kihaskarnivalits – they have a designated word for spear-carnivals – have a Kumbh Mela-like enthusiasm.

This is a collective village game for amateurs, and also a serious pursuit for professionals. Over the years, the Finns have won 26 Olympic medals, 9 of them gold, which is said to be the most limb-inflicting sport.

Chopra’s neck of the woods was not Finland, by any stretch of the imagination, at least at the time. But things will change after Tokyo Olympic Gold. In the dusty cities of Haryana, children will be seen carrying spears to village fields, but we are getting ahead of the story.

Like all pioneers, when Chopra took the less traveled route, she didn’t have signage to guide her. Joining a sport that had nothing to do with the nearby village of Panipat came with obvious difficulties. Smartphone will come in handy.

YouTube videos of elezn regularly eat up most of Chopra’s mobile data.

The Czech world record holder’s 17-step pre-launch routine would become an obsession for the teen from Khandara. In the world of track and field, Zhelezny run-ups are considered a work of art. For biomechanists working with elite athletes, this is a fascinating study into human motion.

The pace of his first 15 steps was perfect. Zhelezny was fast enough so that his speed would give a significant push to the spear, before it left his hand and rose high. He was also quite slow in his approach, as he needed to overcome the last delicate but complex maneuvers involving his limbs.

The last two stages of the run-up are called the soul of Zhelezny’s incredible javelin throw. This made him throw the javelin to a distance of 98.48 metres, which is roughly the length of a football field.

The nearly ballistic rhythm of the hands and feet has surprised physicists at the smooth and efficient transfer of the body’s kinetic energy into the motion of the spear. The elezn on the runway was like a turbine acting like a rotor system to ignite the spear in the sky.

YouTube video

In an extraordinary documentary on YouTube, World Record Jan lezn, experts take a look at those mysterious final steps. They talk about how in the final leg of the race, the triple Olympic gold medalist would brake his body, arching his back, after planting his left foot firmly on the ground ahead of him.

The final zelezny recoil would send the spear into a gorgeous iridescent arc that the world was watching with open eyes. Boys and girls with wide eyes like Chopra would look up at the sky and dream. This sight will make them believe in themselves. Seeing a barely six-foot check with a physique more like a swimmer than a thrower, the seeds of ‘yes, even I can’ will sprout in even the most awkward tiniest teens. elezný was their messiah who conveyed the message that to propel the spear over great distances, one needed the elasticity that could be obtained by hard work, not the enormous frame it was born with.

The secret to Zhelezny’s success wasn’t brute force, giant frames, or DNA. It was a well-refined throwing technique and stern yards that blew the spear out of his hand, taking him to lofty heights. Unlike other throwing events, the javelin was not long or inherently muscular.

In the documentary with automatic English subtitles, Johann Kloeck, who threw over 80 meters from Belgium, talks about Zelezny opening the doors of the javelin field to the world. “Now we see that the competitors’ field has become much bigger. Now the smaller Chinese, Japanese and Indians are throwing more than 85 meters. That’s how we know that they have studied it and made conclusions and also success. able to achieve,” he says.

YouTube video

They certainly have Chopra as prime example.

elezný often surprised fellow throwers during his training time. Those who have seen her on the train say that there will be days when Tara will spend most of her time and energy repeating a very simple-looking exercise.

He’ll start by standing in a pose as though he were in the final leg of his run-up – left foot forward, right angle back. For a long time, he would repeat the subtle forward rocking motion. What seemed like an ineffective warm-up was actually a rehearsal of the moment when everything comes together for a javelin thrower.

On the loop he would practice the exact moment when every twist and turn of his muscles, nerves and ligaments would combine to propel the spear. Resembling a tai-chi master, Zlezno will pat his front left foot and twist the right ankle as if crushing a bug on the ground. He will live and relive that microsecond continuously, as the power flows through the legs, back, hands and finally to the spear.

Belgian coach Patrick Boscher often travels to South Africa during the winter to visit training centers where Zelezny would also have his base. He recalls how the champion thrower used to practice tai chi regularly. The perfectionist would keep working on it until his muscles took the switch to heart. He wanted the planting of his left foot to signal the body turning into a slingshot and throwing the spear to new distances.

“He wanted the motor ability (of this body) to be able to kick without thinking,” Boscher says in the documentary.

Watch Chopra at the top of her run-up ahead of the historic gold-medal throw in Tokyo. Holding the spear with both hands, he also gives that tug to the body. He also taps his left foot and does the ‘bug squash’ routine with his right hand. This is a hat tip to elezn, the man who laid out the blueprint for modern-day javelin throwers, opening the game to all body types and making javelin throw an even playing field.

YouTube video

Chopra’s gold was a big announcement to all Indians that it could be done. After Tokyo, the spear was no longer the patronage of the Scandinavians, who have endured extreme geography and a violent history.

Not far from Chopra’s home, a small village in Haryana called Bangaon will soon get a new name – Little Finland. This is because boys and girls from the region held podiums at national conventions. Hanuman Singh, the teacher of the village’s physical education school, was the reason for the children in shorts, T-shirts and spears to gather at a chicken farm every morning and evening.

On a much smaller scale, Bangaon has the feel of a carnival. There are several videos of javelin carnivals where children, under the watchful eyes of old masters who constantly point out their technical flaws, like Javelin and Chopra – first after releasing the javelin, work hard with their faces and without Failed fall down.

The website Peak Performance quotes sociology professor Pavo Seppenen, proving Finland’s centuries-old spear supremacy. He talks about the country’s tradition of allowing children into the open field. “Throwing things – picking up stones, making shots, wrestling weapons, climbing trees, etc – have always been part of the Finnish physical exercise tradition,” he writes.

During the pandemic, finished crime writer Antti Tuomenen in a delightful piece for The Sunday Times had profiled his nation and mentioned how self-isolation and social distancing came naturally to him.

“Over the decades, Finland has produced quite an impressive collection of world-class music conductors, Formula One drivers, architects, fashion designers, ski jumpers, long-distance runners, film directors, musicians and writers. And if you’re seeing a trend here So maybe you’re not alone. True, they are. Alone in their cockpits, on stage and podiums, writing in their chairs and running in their shoes. Always alone – and much more than idealized Already maintaining his social distance.”

Tuomenen and Seppenen may well be talking about Haryana’s love for the outside and the independent character of its strong, barely-spoken, silent champion athletes.

Be sure to send your feedback to

Sandeep Dwivedi

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