Neeraj Chopra: The Golden Throw and Olympic Glory

2 years ago / by Swarnendu Biswas
neeraj chopra
Chopra before his medal-winning throw at the 2020 Olympics (image credits: KSV9 via Creative Commons)

Neeraj Chopra (born: 24th December 1997) has made history by becoming only the second person to win a gold medal for India in any individual game in Olympics. Neeraj achieved this stupendous feat when he won the gold medal in Men’s Javelin Throw at the Tokyo Olympics early this morning, on 7th August 2021. 

On 11th August 2008, Abhinav Bindra became the first person to win a gold medal for India in an individual game in the Olympics. He won the gold medal in the men’s 10m air rifle, in the 2008 Summer Olympics, which was held in Beijing.

Neeraj’s Olympic gold medal winning throw landed at 87.58 m. There were 12 competitors in the Javelin Throw final. With this distinction, he has become the first track and field athlete to win a gold medal for India in the Olympics. In fact, before Neeraj Chopra, India had won only two other medals in track and field in the Olympics and they were won way back in 1900 by British-Indian Norman Pritchard, with his two silver medals in the Paris Olympics.

Neeraj’s win increased India’s medal count at the Tokyo Olympics to seven, making it the best haul for India in the Olympics till date. Before Tokyo Olympics, six medals in the 2012 London Olympics was India’s best performance in terms of total medal count.

Hailing from Khandra village in the Panipat district of Haryana, Neeraj was a naughty boy in his early teens. His father Satish Kumar Chopra channeled his energy productively by persuading him to take up running. According to Neeraj’s mother, Saroj Devi, her son took to javelin throwing when he saw some of his friends doing it at the Shivaji Stadium in Panipat. With that, a new history began scripting… And now after his recent triumph in the Tokyo Olympics, a festive mood has spread across the entire Khandra village.

However, Neeraj’s present Olympic triumph is by no means a flash in the pan, but a reflection of his continued brilliance and sustained dedication. He also won a gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games, with a throw of 84.23 m. By making such an impressive throw he equaled the Indian national record. The Arjuna Award winner also won a gold medal in the 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships, held in BydgoszczPoland. Neeraj’s Herculean effort of 86.47 meters in men’s javelin throw won him the gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. At the 2018 Asian Games, held in Jakarta, he won another gold. His gold medal winning throw in the 2018 Asian Games was an astonishing 88.06m.

Neeraj’s mother expressed that she was quite confident even before her son left for Tokyo that he would come back with the gold. She said she was waiting to welcome her son back home with his favorite dish, choorma, a north Indian sweet delicacy.