Tokyo: Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Saturday scripted history and became only the second individual Indian athlete after Abhinav Bindra to be crowned Olympic champion as he won gold in the men’s javelin throw at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
The 23-year-old Chopra, who hails from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana threw a best attempt of 87.58m in the finals to end India’s 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics.
Neeraj’s gold, a historic first for the country in track and field, the second for an individual ever and the first since Abhinav Bindra’s in 2008, took India’s medal count at Tokyo 2020 to seven – making it their best-ever haul at a single Olympics.
Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch won silver and fellow Czech Vitezslav Vesely bagged the bronze medal.
Neeraj Chopra – who had also finished top of qualifying – began with a 87.03m throw at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, the best of anyone after their first attempts.
The Indian javelin thrower then improved to 87.58m with his second throw to maintain his place at the top and went only 76.79m in his third attempt.
However, Chopra’s fourth and fifth attempts were foul throws but he finished strong with 84.24m.
With his historic achievement, Chopra has done something which the likes of late Milkha Singh and P T Usha could not do in 1960 and 1984 editions.
Notably, No Indian has won a medal in athletics since the country started taking part in the Games in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium.
Neeraj’s great show ensured that India ended the Tokyo Olympics on a high – with the men’s javelin throw being the last event that Indian athletes take part in at the Summer Games.
Chopra, who joined the Indian Army in 2016 and is currently serving as Junior Commissioned Officer with the rank of Naib Subedar.
He won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, where he set a then new Indian national record of 88.06m, and was flag bearer at the opening ceremony. Neeraj Chopra has since broken his own record, throwing 88.07m at the Indian Grand Prix in 2021.
The javelin thrower also won gold at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, was 2016 IAAF World U20 champion, and set the world junior record, of 86.48m.