Neeraj Chopra made history as India’s first ever track and field athlete to win a gold medal at a Summer Olympics. Neeraj secured the gold with a throw measuring 87.58m in his second attempt to script an incredible end to India’s Tokyo 2020 campaign.
The 23-year-old had an impressive qualification, when he secured the top spot in his group and was in contention for a medal, but surely a gold with just his second attempt might not have been even in his thoughts. He started off with an 87.03 and then improved to an 87.58 with his second attempt. With none of the other contenders breaching the 87m mark, it was quite clear that Neeraj was now the clear favorite to take the top honors.
German favorite Johannes Vetter was out of contention following the opening three attempts, and it was Neeraj who led the field from start to finish. His third attempt was well below the 80m mark, and then he had a couple of fouled attempts on his fourth and fifth.
And then as he waited for the rest of the field to finish, Vesely Vitezslav of Czech Republic was the only one standing between him and the gold, and as the Czech fell short with an 86.67m attempt, Neeraj Chopra was the winner, with a throw left in the competition.
He could barely contain his excitement, as he came up on top of his run up and let the javelin fly for one last time into the Tokyo sky. And then took off on a celebratory run. The young man, a son of a farmer from a small village in Haryana, stood atop the podium in Tokyo – on the biggest stage of ‘em all.
PM Shri Narendra Modi led the applause on behalf of the nation as he tweeted out his wishes and said that Neeraj’s achievements will forever remain etched in the nation’s sporting history.
Chopra joins Abhinav Bindra as the only other individual gold medal winner at the Summer Olympics.