Who is Neeraj Chopra’s coach?
Neeraj Chopra won India’s first-ever individual Olympic gold medal in athletics at Tokyo 2020, achieving a mark of 87.58 metres in the javelin throw final at the Olympic Stadium.
Hailing from Haryana, Neeraj Chopra has been mentored along the way by a succession of coaches, led by the legendary Uwe Hohn, and including Klaus Bartonietz, Gary Calvert, Werner Daniels, Kashinath Naik, Naseem Ahmad and Jaiveer Singh.
Jaiveer is Neeraj Chopra’s childhood coach, under whom the boy from Khandra village in Haryana’s Panipat district first learnt about the sport of javelin throwing.
In 2011, Neeraj came to the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula, Haryana, where he trained under coach Naseem Ahmad. Neeraj would observe his seniors training there and take tips from them. Ahmad also made him train with long-distance runners to build his stamina and strength.
“As he made throws with cross legs and had a wide last stride, it gave him the required momentum for the final jerk for smooth throws,” coach Ahmad told The Indian Express. “Starting from throwing with two strides to three strides and five strides, we would progress to a full run-up each day and it helped him master the landing technique too.”
Neeraj Chopra won gold at the 2016 World U20 Championships in Poland with a junior world record throw of 86.48m.
Coach Gary Calvert, assisted by Kashinath Naik, was working with Neeraj Chopra at that time. Gary Calvert, an Australian who also served as the Chinese national javelin coach, died in 2018 of a heart attack in Beijing.
Kashinath Naik, the 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in javelin throw, remembers Neeraj as an impressive junior who threw with a lot of energy despite being skinny at that time.
Neeraj Chopra later had a training stint under German coach Werner Daniels ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where he won gold.
Uwe Hohn, coach of Neeraj Chopra from 2017 to 2018
Asian Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra’s most well-known coach is German Uwe Hohn, the only athlete in history to throw the javelin over a 100 metres.
In 1984, Uwe Hohn recorded a massive throw of 104.8m in Berlin. A new javelin design was subsequently adopted in 1986; the centre of gravity was brought forward on the javelin to shorten throws that were threatening to go beyond available space in stadiums and also to make them land into the ground instead of falling flat to avoid ambiguous landings. Uwe Hohn’s incredible throw has hence become an ‘eternal’ world record since.
Born in Neuruppin, then East Germany, Uwe Hohn won gold in the javelin throw at the 1982 European Championships and the 1985 IAAF World Cup. Hohn missed out on the 1984 Olympics as his country East Germany had boycotted the Los Angeles Summer Games.
Hohn has also coached Zhao Qinggang of China, who won the gold in the javelin throw at the 2014 Asian Games. He started working with Neeraj Chopra in 2017.
In 2018, Uwe Hohn further improved Neeraj Chopra’s throwing technique, which the German felt was a “wild” one.
Hohn had also said that the Sports Authority of India and Athletics Federation of India could have done more to send Indian athletes to overseas camps or competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic. He had also said that getting the right dietary supplements for athletes was an issue.
After Hohn, biomechanics expert Klaus Bartonietz worked with Neeraj Chopra all the way till the Tokyo Olympics.
"I feel overwhelming joy. Joy for Neeraj that he could get a medal; not just bronze, not silver but gold, and he became the best javelin thrower in the world,” Klaus Bartonietz said after Neeraj Chopra’s win in Tokyo.