Klaus’ job: Keeping Neeraj relaxed and focused on fitness

express news service

CHENNAI: There is humility in your voice. Her silence turns serious, especially with the job at hand. He rarely takes credit for having trained a champion. He stays out of the limelight and lets his ward soak in all the joys of success.

Coach Klaus Bartonietz loves to laugh, talk about walks, walks and little pleasures of nature. And it turns out that he is the oldest member of Neeraj Chopra’s three-member family as he trains away from family and friends at home or abroad. Ishaan Marwaha, the physical therapist, is the other member who makes sure the athlete stays injury-free, fit and well when the call-up is announced. It is a small but happy family.

The 73-year-old German coach likes it simple, devoid of the scruples and complications of the world. He believes that knowing the limits of one’s body is essential and that there is no reason to go beyond a point. When Neeraj started training late last year, Bartonietz didn’t push. “I needed to be in shape,” he said. “He was overweight and we (him and the physio) had to make sure he was fit before we started pitching.”

READ ALSO | With his back against the wall, Neeraj finds a silver lining at the World Championship

Forget the javelin, Neeraj wasn’t even fit enough to throw the medicine ball! It took them more than a month before they started some throwing with balls first in January and then with the javelin. It was a process and it was a slow cook. For the coach, keeping the body and mind healthy is paramount.

Like Neeraj, even the coach was in territory not trodden before. The pitcher fouled on his first pitch in the World Championship final in Eugene on Saturday (early Sunday in India) and the next two pitches were normal by his standard. Despite the countless emotions that went through, the coach remained calm. “It was a challenge because of the conditions and the situation we were in, but he wasn’t worried,” he tells this newspaper from Eugene while he waits for his pupil to finish his doping control. “He has the experience. He knows that he has prepared well and was close to 90m before. He knows that he can throw big. A good pitch is what he needed. So he needed to be cool and make that good pitch. He just wanted him to relax and pitch.” Relax, is a word that the coach loves to pronounce.

Even before an important competition, his exercises are basic and he loves to work on the mind, the center that controls the body. After the first two pitches, which is crucial for Neeraj, who doesn’t want to leave it until last, it was all about the mind. “In competition, it’s about having a strong mind because the brain controls everything,” he said. “In fact, it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, especially when you’re in that position. But he was confident because Neeraj has a very strong mind and he showed it strongly. It’s not easy to come back, but he was confident and so were we”.

Even here, during the interval between the qualifying round and the final, it was simple rituals without much stress. “A little bit of speed training and light throws and squats,” she said. But mostly he wanted Neeraj to relax and not worry too much about the results. His training in Turkey and later in Chula Vista after the European circuit had been very fruitful.

READ ALSO | Neeraj’s silver medal at the World Championships in Athletics erupts in celebrations in Panipat

As he had said, strengthening his hips and legs (one more on the left) to withstand the pitches was the most challenging part. “We had to do it gradually. He could tell that he had a good time after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics”, he laughed in his most inimitable style.

About the conditions in Eugene, which Neeraj had mentioned after his silver, Klaus said the wind was tricky. “It was windy and you really don’t know how the javelin would behave unless it was airborne,” he said. The coach, in general as always, has no complaints. “It’s a silver and a good show and I’m very happy.”

With the Commonwealth Games event scheduled for August 7, the team heads to Birmingham on Sunday (US time). Klau is also keeping a close eye on Neeaj’s thigh strain, which the latter admitted during an interaction. “Right now we’re traveling to Birmingham and I hope it’s not too bad.”

“Neeraj had fouled on his first throw and only then was he able to see how the wind was blowing and how the javelin was behaving. We have to watch that. In windy conditions, the launch needed to be flatter, since he wouldn’t be hanging in the air for very long. The wind cannot be predicted. But those are the changes you have to adjust to while pitching.” And being the man that he is, Klaus said there was nothing to worry about the conditions. One has to train perfectly for a perfect launch. In that he believes and will continue to believe.

Coach Klaus Bartonietz loves to laugh, talk about walks, walks and little pleasures of nature. And it turns out that he is the oldest member of Neeraj Chopra’s three-member family as he trains away from family and friends at home or abroad. Ishaan Marwaha, the physical therapist, is the other member who makes sure the athlete stays injury-free, fit and well when the call-up is announced. It is a small but happy family.

The 73-year-old German coach likes it simple, devoid of the scruples and complications of the world. He believes that knowing the limits of one’s body is essential and that there is no reason to go beyond a point. When Neeraj started training late last year, Bartonietz didn’t push. “I needed to be in shape,” he said. “He was overweight and we (him and the physio) had to make sure he was fit before we started pitching.”

READ ALSO | With his back against the wall, Neeraj finds a silver lining at the World Championship

Forget the javelin, Neeraj wasn’t even fit enough to throw the medicine ball! It took them more than a month before they started some throwing with balls first in January and then with the javelin. It was a process and it was a slow cook. For the coach, keeping the body and mind healthy is paramount.

Like Neeraj, even the coach was in territory not trodden before. The pitcher fouled on his first pitch in the World Championship final in Eugene on Saturday (early Sunday in India) and the next two pitches were normal by his standard. Despite the countless emotions that went through, the coach remained calm. “It was a challenge because of the conditions and the situation we were in, but he wasn’t worried,” he tells this newspaper from Eugene while he waits for his pupil to finish his doping control. “He has the experience. He knows that he has prepared well and was close to 90m before. He knows that he can throw big. A good pitch is what he needed. So he needed to be cool and make that good pitch. He just wanted him to relax and pitch.” Relax, is a word that the coach loves to pronounce.

Even before an important competition, his exercises are basic and he loves to work on the mind, the center that controls the body. After the first two pitches, which is crucial for Neeraj, who doesn’t want to leave it until last, it was all about the mind. “In competition, it’s about having a strong mind because the brain controls everything,” he said. “In fact, it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, especially when you’re in that position. But he was confident because Neeraj has a very strong mind and he showed it strongly. It’s not easy to come back, but he was confident and so were we”.

Even here, during the interval between the qualifying round and the final, it was simple rituals without much stress. “A little bit of speed training and light throws and squats,” she said. But mostly he wanted Neeraj to relax and not worry too much about the results. His training in Turkey and later in Chula Vista after the European circuit had been very fruitful.

READ ALSO | Neeraj’s silver medal at the World Championships in Athletics erupts in celebrations in Panipat

As he had said, strengthening his hips and legs (one more on the left) to withstand the pitches was the most challenging part. “We had to do it gradually. He could tell that he had a good time after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics”, he laughed in his most inimitable style.

About the conditions in Eugene, which Neeraj had mentioned after his silver, Klaus said the wind was tricky. “It was windy and you really don’t know how the javelin would behave unless it was airborne,” he said. The coach, in general as always, has no complaints. “It’s a silver and a good show and I’m very happy.”

With the Commonwealth Games event scheduled for August 7, the team heads to Birmingham on Sunday (US time). Klau is also keeping a close eye on Neeaj’s thigh strain, which the latter admitted during an interaction. “Right now we’re traveling to Birmingham and I hope it’s not too bad.”

“Neeraj had fouled on his first throw and only then was he able to see how the wind was blowing and how the javelin was behaving. We have to watch that. In windy conditions, the launch needed to be flatter, since he wouldn’t be hanging in the air for very long. The wind cannot be predicted. But those are the changes you have to adjust to while pitching.” And being the man that he is, Klaus said there was nothing to worry about the conditions. One has to train perfectly for a perfect launch. In that he believes and will continue to believe.

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