Born in a half residential area in Panipat’s Khadra village, star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was pegged as India’s strongest medal hope in Tokyo Olympics.
Neeraj won bronze with performance of 86.79m in Kuortane Games. He qualified for the javelin final in Olympics with a throw of 86.65m and then later with a best throw of 87.58 in the men’s javelin throw final on Saturday finished at the top and hence became the second ever from his country after shooter Abhinav Bindra to win an individual Olympic gold and first ever to win gold in athletic.
This is India’s seventh medal at the Tokyo Olympics which means that they have surpassed their previous best tally of six medals at the 2012 Games held in London.
The 23-year-old Neeraj took the lead with a throw of 87.03 in his first attempt of the final and then went ahead to 87.58 in his second to create the highest number. He continued to lead the field throughout the competition hence securing the top position ultimately at the end. The silver medal went to Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic (best throw of 86.67m) while his countryman Vitezslav Vesely took home bronze (best throw of 85.44m).
Neeraj’s previous best was the 88.06m gold-medal winning throw at the 2018 Asian Games. He was also the 2016 World Under 20 champion and set the world under-20 record of 86.48 m.
Mirabai Chanu won first medal for India earlier this year with a historic silver in women’s weightlifting last month. PV Sindhu won her second successive Olympic medal – a bronze in women’s singles badminton followed by Lovlina Borgohain adding a third to the country’s tally with a bronze in boxing. India men’s hockey team then defeated Germany to win bronze and Ravi Singh Dahiya then bagged silver in wrestling. On the final day of India’s event, Bajrang Punia added sixth medal to India’s total with a bronze in men’s freestyle 65kg wrestling. And then, Neeraj created history.
This year sure was a big one for our country in Olympics. But it also raises an important point of encouraging sports in India. In a world where countries like USA and China easily bag 108 and 87 medals in Olympics, there is much to be questioned about our own country. We are a land of potential with extremely talented people but that talent is very rarely harboured. From the early school life itself, the students are filled with the mentality that they should only focus on academics to excel in life. With pressure from parents and lack of proper resources most people lose the passion if any.
More sponsorship and training should be given to the athletes all over. The way Indians cheer for cricket, same level of love should be shown for other sports as well. Government should pitch in funds and schemes to train the athletes who would go on to make our country proud in the future.
Hopefully this year’s glory will open people’s eyes and a change can be brought up in the country.