Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra sky dives, paraglides and hikes around Switzerland, between servings of fondue

The javelin thrower has been roped in as the Friendship Ambassador of Switzerland. He also donated his gold-winning javelin to the The Olympic Museum in Lausanne

The javelin thrower has been roped in as the Friendship Ambassador of Switzerland. He also donated his gold-winning javelin to the The Olympic Museum in Lausanne

Neeraj Chopra is hardly a stranger in Switzerland. During his recent holiday in the idyllic country, the Olympic gold medallist was often recognised by passers-by. At one of the train stations, he recalls a few Indian travellers calling out his name. “It always feels great to bump into people from India when you are in a different country,” says Neeraj over a video call from Delhi. “It’s a good thing that more people are recognising me, which means more people will watch the sport and it will grow,” adds the 24-year-old.

Neeraj has been roped in as the Friendship Ambassador of Switzerland by Switzerland Tourism. In this role, he gets to showcase the adventurous side of the country. Though he has been travelling there since 2017, to participate in competitions, he says he never really had the time to explore. This time after finishing the season with the Diamond League, which he won, he was joined by his friends and together they tried out a variety of adventure sports.

Neeraj Chopra and his friends in Interlaken

Neeraj Chopra and his friends in Interlaken
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“I was waiting to finish the competition and start travelling as it is a great way to relax after the hectic season. There was so much excitement,” he says. He travelled across Zermatt, Geneva and Interlaken. He also visited The Olympic Museum in Lausanne where he donated his gold-winning javelin. With this he hopes to encourage more people to take up the sport.

“It’s beautiful and green everywhere you look. And everywhere we went there was something different to see and do,” he says. “We tried sky diving, canyon swinging, jetboating, monster biking, hiking, paragliding, a helicopter ride… even did a unique running tour of Geneva,” he says.

Neeraj says he particularly enjoyed canyon swinging in Grindelwald as it was a solo activity. Suspended by a rope, he jumped into a 90-metre deep abyss at the speed of 120 kilometre per hour. “For a little while, as I swung a few times in the gorge, I let go of my fear,” he says.

What he also let go of was his diet. “Fondue, cheese, chocolate, pizza… sab khaya, no diet,” he grins, adding that now that he is back he will enjoy home food and once training starts it will be back to a “no oil, no fat diet comprising fruits, salad, sprouts, a little non veg and in general a balanced meal”. But that is just a little sacrifice for a sport he so loves.

Stating that he took an instant liking to javelin the moment he saw a few of his friends trying it, he says, “That was way back in 2011 in Shivaji Stadium, Panipat. I liked the way it flew in the air. I also wanted to throw my javelin and see it fly. That’s how it started and ever since I have really enjoyed it,” he adds. Neeraj will soon start training for the World Championship in Hungary next year, followed by the Asian Games, Diamond League and then the Olympics in 2024. He is aware that the competition is only going to get tougher. “I keep telling myself I have to improve, and that’s how I stay motivated,” he says. 

Next on the bucket list is winter in Switzerland, he says: “I have only seen snow in pictures. I want to experience that in real life.”

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