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Tokyo Olympics: Neeraj Chopra, a Farmer's Son Wins Historic Gold Medal for India in Javelin

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Neeraj Chopra

On Saturday (7th August), top javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra became the 2nd Indian to win an individual gold medal in the Olympics, surpassing the competition by some distance to become the country's 1st track-and-field Games medalist. 

The 23-year-old son of a farmer from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana stunned the sports world with a second-round throw of 87.58m in the finals, ending India's 100-year wait for an Olympic track and field medal. 

Chopra went in like a hero, brimming with confidence and showing no signs of anxiety, to make the Tokyo Games India's best ever Olympic excursion in what was the country's final competitive outing at the ongoing edition. 

With this, the country exceeded its previous highest total of six medals from the London Olympics in 2012. Aside from Chopra's gold medal, India has two silver medals and four bronze medals. 

Jakub Vadlejch (86.67m) and Vitezslav Vesely (85.44m) of the Czech Republic won silver and bronze, respectively. 

Chopra entered the final as a medal possibility, having won the qualification round on Wednesday with a remarkable first-round throw of 86.59m. Few would have predicted that he would pound his way to gold in such domineering fashion on the largest of stages. 

He began with a bang, throwing the spear to a distance of 87.03m and then improving it to 87.58m, his best of the day, which no one in the field could match. 

His third throw was a dismal 76.76m, and he then fouled his next two efforts before finishing with an 84.24m effort. By the time the Nordic javelin left his right hand on his second attempt, he knew it had gone the furthest of all, and he raised both arms in triumph, confident that the job had been completed. 

Chopra raced towards the Indian presence in the stands with raised fists and covered himself in the tri-color to perform a short lap of honour as the event ended. 

Johannes Vetter of Germany, the season leader and pre-tournament gold favorite, was eliminated after the first three throws, finishing eighth with a best effort of 82.52m. Vetter had thrown the spear to 90m plus distances seven times between April and June. 

After the first three throws, the top eight players get three more chances, while the remaining four players in the 12-man final are eliminated. 

Chopra even clapped for Vetter, a buddy off the field, when he came out for his effort, but the German's day was not meant to be. 

With a best throw of 84.62 meters, Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem placed fifth. 

Chopra has accomplished what the late Milkha Singh and P T Usha could not do in the 1960 and 1984 tournaments with his fifth career best throw. 

"Today is a turning point for Indian athletics and the country as a whole. Nothing compares to winning an Olympic gold medal. We waited a long time to attain our aim, but we eventually did”, Athletics Federation of India President Adille Sumariwalla said.  

He added "I am hopeful that Neeraj's gold will alter the landscape and profile of athletics in the country, as well as our international status." 

Since the country began competing in the Games in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920, no Indian had won a medal in athletics. Three track and field athletes were among the five-member team at that Games, with the other two being wrestlers. 

Congratulations Neeraj Chopra !!!! We are proud of You

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