Not less than a minor celebrity in his village, Bartonietz has been flooded with calls and talks from his neighbours who had watched the Olympics Javelin final where Chopra created history.
When India’s first track and field Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra was getting mobbed at the airport, attending VVIP felicitation functions and receiving a billion thank-yous; his two German coaches, in contrasting seclusion, were following the frenzy on their smartphones and social media.
Landing home after a year-and-a-half, Dr Klaus Bartonietz, Chopra’s 73-year-old biomechanical expert, first took a train and later travelled by road to reach little Oberschlettenbach, a 130-resident remote village in south-west Germany. While fixing a long-pending appointment with his family doctor, Bartonietz was amused to see clips and videos of a security cordon around his boy who had turned into an overnight javelin-throwing sensation.
“What is going on in India with Neeraj? It is crazy. I know it is a historic medal for India. I got some pictures and I saw the army (paramilitary) was called to protect him,” Bartonietz told The Indian Express from Oberschlettenbach.
Almost similar reception awaited India’s head coach for javelin Uwe Hohn who is also from Germany and went back to Rheinsberg after the victory at Olympics. The town which does not have more than 8000 inhabitants has become a talking point about the Olympics and how Chopra sealed the Gold medal for India.
Hohn has been on social media to follow India’s emotional reception to its newest Olympic star. “Yes, sure, Facebook is full of it,” Hohn says from Rheinsberg. “At the moment it is a good time to celebrate Neeraj and his success. Neeraj deserves all these honours. I hope it will have an influence on all athletes in India and not just javelin throwers. I came to India knowing that the biggest talent in the world has no coach. I got Klaus to India. Klaus did a good job. In the past few months the technique improved to the level we liked to see,” says the man who hand-held Chopra when he became a high-80 metre javelin thrower and was his coach when he won the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medals. Hohn who has seen Chopra grow into a champion from his early days has himself been arguably the greatest javelin thrower of the generation as he is the only one to have thrown over 100 metres in the world.
Both the accomplices in Chopra’s greatest victory are aware that their stay at their hometown would be short lived as they have to get back to India by September-end for the preparation of the World Championship, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
The one that will take Chopra beyond the Olympic gold.
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