On 7th August 2021, Neeraj Chopra created history by becoming India's first track and field athlete to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. With this, India won its first gold medal at the ongoing games. This also marks the country's second individual gold medal in the history of the Olympics, after Abhinav Bindra's win in Beijing 2008. A graduate from Chandigarh, the 23-year-old is a Subedar with 4 Rajputana Rifles in the Indian Army. In a recent interview, Neeraj Chopra spoke about his diet and love for food from Pani Puri to Churma.
Neeraj Chopra took up the sport in 2011, his bio on the Olympics official website states, and was inspired by watching people practice throwing the javelin in Haryana. This also points to a decade of training and sacrifices that culminated in the Olympic win. Speaking about the food choices that went into making the champion, Neeraj said, in an interview with ESPN, that on match days he usually stays away from fatty foods. “I prefer eating things like salads or fruits. I also like to eat things like grilled chicken breast and eggs,” Neeraj was quoted as saying.
Additionally, Neeraj Chopra said that he eats bread and omelette more than anything else and could eat it “any time of the week”.
Speaking about what cheat meal he would be treating himself to after the legendary win, Neeraj Chopra said that it would most likely comprise something sweet. “When I get the chance to have a cheat meal, I'll usually eat a lot of sweets. I don't even care what kind of sweets they are.” Getting into details, Neeraj said, “What I really like is fresh homemade Churma. It has a lot of ghee and sugar, so it's something we can't eat during training, so it's something I really enjoy.” Churma is a simple dessert made of crushed roti, sugar and ghee.
Speaking about the one food item the athlete has added to his diet as a sportsman, Neeraj Chopra said that he had taken to eating salmon fish. “If I have to eat non-vegetarian food, I'll prefer having some grilled salmon,” He also recommended fresh fruit juice for recovery, stressing that it “can't be packaged”.
But what about fast food? Well, it looks like Neeraj Chopra was a recommendation for one fast food that “is okay to eat as a professional athlete”. And it is everyone's favourite Pani Puri. Explaining the rationale behind it, Neeraj said, “It's mostly water and most of your stomach gets filled with water. The papri is quite big but the amount of flour is very little. It's mostly water that's going inside you,” Neeraj said, adding that he would not suggest having them daily.
Neeraj Chopra is also a good cook. He said, “I can cook a lot of dishes but I think what I make best is namkeen chawal (Spicy rice). I think people also call it veg biryani,” adding that if there was a dish Neeraj would like to introduce to his foreign counterparts, it would be chicken curry or butter chicken. But with a little less spice, of course.
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