“Because I participated in a few international competitions, I didn’t feel any pressure in the final. It also helps when your first throw lands well. I felt confident after that first throw,” said Neeraj Chopra in a virtual media conference. He first threw to 87.03 meters and improved it in the second by throwing 87.58 m. The 23-year old Chopra became the first Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics. He is one of the two Indians to win individual gold medals at Olympics. The other being Abhinav Bindra who won gold in shooting at Beijing Olympics in 2008.
“After that (first) throw I was thinking of the fact that the Olympic record of javelin throw is 90.57 meters. My own personal best is 88.07m. So, I was thinking of trying to target the Olympic record in the subsequent throws. I gave my everything, but javelin throw is a technical sport and not just about power, so I couldn’t better the second attempt (87.58 m). My next target will be to cross 90 m mark,” Chopra said.
“I did not feel pressure”
“The two to three international competitions that I participated in this year really helped me. The reason I didn’t feel any pressure at the Olympics was because I had played against most of my opponents a few times,” he went on. “I cannot explain how happy I am today. It was of course a difficult time when I had that injury. Then the surgery was successful. Even though the year 2019 went waste because of the injury, the focus was always on the Olympics,” he said.
“When Tokyo Olympics was postponed, I tried not to take it negatively. At the time, I told myself that now I have an extra year to prepare for the event,” he explained. “We have won medals in the past. There was a gold medal in shooting, there were many gold medals in hockey. But there was none in athletics. Milkha Singh and PV Usha had come close in the past. So I was very important to win this medal,” Chopra commented on being the first Indian to win gold medal in athletics.
Chopra becomes an icon
Neeraj Chopra’s historic win made him an icon. The fact that he won a gold medal for the country after a gap of 13 years makes his very special. Today he is the greatest sport star. A medal in Tokyo was not really in doubt because of the way he has been consistently improving his performance. When Chopra returned to the stadium after recovering from injury which kept him away for the whole of 2019, he made it clear that his elbow problem ceased to bother him. In Potchefstroom in South Africa, Chopra threw the javelin 87.86 meters. Since then he was considered an Olympic material and was expected to win a medal. Winning gold was most probably because of the inability of the German athlete Johannes Vetter.
In U-20 Athletics championship, Chopra won gold medal in 2016. Next year he won gold in Asia Championships at Bhuvaneswar. In 2018, Chopra won gold medals at the commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. Since he is in his early twenties he can hope to improve his performance and repeat gold in the next Olympics as well.
PT Usha congratulates
PT Usha who missed a medal in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Games was one of the millions who congratulated Neeraj Chpra for winning the first Olympic Athletics gold for India. “He realized my unfinished dream after 37 years. Thank you my son @Neeraj_chopra1#Tokyo2020,”said Usha. She won a silver medal in 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi. Next year she won gold in 400 m run at Asian Championship. She was awarded Padma Shri.