New Delhi: If rules allowed, Neeraj Chopra would have won both Gold and Silver in men's Javelin in Tokyo Olympics.
A notable feature of the final event on August 7 was doubly satisfying for millions of Indians as the two biggest throws of the big-day belonged to the boy from Panipat in Haryana.
In the final saga, Neeraj Chopra was the second to throw in the 12-man battle and he got off to a spectacular start with a throw of 87.03 m.
He then bettered it with 87.58 on his second, but it came down to 76.79 m on his third.
The story goes that Neeraj Chopra (23) is in all purposeful sense a Javelin thrower by accident, and, as they say, the luck!
Parents were concerned about his over weight. He ran at times but when he took a chance with throw with Javelin, some locals said, “iis mein baat hai “.
That was the beginning of spotting a Talent in rural Haryana.
A sultry afternoon, and the beginning chapter of the saga was being written.
”The teenager travelled over four hours from his native, Khandra village, near Panipat, to enquire about the process of getting admission at the sports academy that had one of the only two synthetic tracks available in Haryana at the time” recalls his former coach Naseem Ahmad.
It was 2011 when a chubby 13-year-old named Neeraj Chopra came to the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula. The beginning never knows the end.
In the case of Neeraj Chopra, prior to August 7, 2021 feat at Tokyo another memorable moment was winning the Gold in Commonwealth in 2018.
After that, he had promised to himself and his well wishers, “I would like to give the same performance in the Olympics of 2020 and get Gold for India”.
He missed the calendar 2020 certainly, thanks to ‘luck’ yet again and of course the dreaded pandemic.
But come 2021, the Tokyo2020 brought the historic day of his life, August 7 (2021) and yes, the Olympic Gold was his. "He (Neeraj) played with remarkable passion and showed unparalleled grit," tweeted a jubiliant Prime Minister Modi.
An ever smiling army personnel (4 Rajputana Rifles), Neeraj hhas certainly made men and women in camouflage proud. He should be remembering his ‘fauzi dosts’ and ‘seniors’ – who would joke in the canteen and playground — “a soldier never quits…”. That spirit came handy.
"When after a very tiring and long session, you do not feel exhausted, you must underatand that a historic success is coming your way," - this is what he had tweeted!
He kept his cool in the final, could build up pressure on rivals right from the word go, and finally the milestone.
In fact, it was a bad day for German and pre-tournament favourite Johannes Vetter.
Some years back, Neeraj had also said, “You know the struggles, family situations. When your true patience is tested, one had to keep Viswas (faith). Keep pushing yourself, and you will succeed”.
There were other issues too – health and surgery. He had to skip the Asian Championships and spent weeks and months sitting at home watching all the games.
“I should have been there,” he told his father, a hardworking farmer from Panipat in India’s key agrarian state.
And then in Doha, as he saw the World Championship and others winning medals with 85-86 metres; he knew – “Hamsey ho payega….I could manage”.
This confidence worked like a spring-bolt. All these, his smiles and body reflexes were visible on ground even as he knew of the pressures of high expectations back home and from thousands of enthusiastic Indians virtually across the globe.
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