23-year-old Neeraj Chopra has made the entire country proud by winning the prestigious gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics for Javelin Throw. He is now the second individual athlete to have bagged a gold Olympic medal after Abhinav Bindra in 2008. However, he is the first to have won India’s first Olympic medal in track and field events, putting an end to a 121-year-old wait, reports India Today.
Neeraj Chopra’s journey has been filled with remarkable highs and some heartbreaking lows. Born in 1997 in the small village of Khandar, Neeraj is the son of a farmer who had joined athletics just to shed some weight. Speaking to India Today, his uncle Surinder Chopra revealed:
“I used to make him wake up early. We wanted him to be fit. He was 13 years old and 80 kgs. We used to take him to the field for training but when he came back he used to have Churma so there was no difference in his weight. When he went to the fitness centre away from his village, we were told to change his diet completely and even though he refused to comply initially, when he saw other boys going there for training he continued the journey.”
In May 2016, Neeraj joined the Indian Army as a junior commissioned officer. After joining, he was selected for training at the Mission Olympics Wing and the Army Sports Institute in Pune.
General MM Naravane #COAS and All Ranks of #IndianArmy congratulate Subedar Neeraj Chopra on winning Nation’s first ever #GoldMedal in #Javelin in Olympics with a throw of 87.58 meters at #TokyoOlympics.#MissionOlympics#Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/HUotK29P4K
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) August 7, 2021
He rose to fame after winning gold at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Poland when he was 18 years old. He had become the first Indian athlete to have become a world champion.
That wasn’t it. Neeraj went on to win gold at the Commonwealth Games 2018, Asian Games 2018 and also received the Arjuna Award in 2018 for his athletic endeavours.
However, in November 2018, a month after the Asian Games, Neeraj started to feel discomfort in the elbow of his throwing arm leading to painful inflammation. He had suffered an injuring which put a halt to his training and kept him out of the game for 6 months, reports News18.
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Neeraj was back with a bang in 2020 as he breached the Olympic qualification mark at the ACNE League meeting in South Africa. The rest is history!
Back at home in Panipat, his mother is waiting for Neeraj with churma! Decorations are in order, and so are DJs to give him a grand welcome.
— ANI (@ANI) August 7, 2021
Besides this, it is raining rewards. According to The Indian Express, Punjab CM announced a cash reward of Rs 2 crore, while Haryana CM announced a reward of Rs 6 crore along with a class-I government job. IPL’s Chennai Super Kings has announced Rs 1 crore for him. IndiGo has offered free travel for him for a year.
The future is bright for this star!