Neeraj Chopra Biography: The Man Who Is Conquering Dream Distances

8 min read
Neeraj Chopra Biography
Image Source: India Today

When we say cricket or football, you come up a hundred names. But what about if we ask about few names in javelin throw? Scratch your head!

To sum up, quickly we can say that India is not an ‘athletic nation’. There is only a handful of talent in the country of 130 crores who dream of winning the medal at the international stage. These talents emerge so bright that they make the people in this cricket-crazy nation take notice. One such young prodigy is Neeraj Chopra

In 2016, Chopra became the first Indian athlete to have a world record against his name when he won gold at the U-20 World Championships in Poland. He has joined the league of legends by winning both the Commonwealth and Asiad golds, only the second Indian athlete to do so after Milkha Singh in 1958.

Long haired, charismatic and virile, Neeraj Chopra catches attention on first sight.  His journey is no small wonder. Let’s find out.

Neeraj Chopra Biography

About Athlete
Full Name
Neeraj Chopra
Age
21 years
Sport Category
Track and field (Javelin throw)
Date of Birth
December 24, 1997
Hometown
Panipat, Haryana
Height
6 ft.
Coach
Uwe Hohn
Ranking
4

Humble start

Neeraj’s father Satish Kumar is a farmer in a tiny village of Khandra in Panipat, Haryana. His mother is a housewife and he has two sisters. Neeraj developed an interest in Javelin at the tender age of 11 after keeping an eye on Jaiveer (Jai Choudhary) who used to practice at the Panipat Stadium. Jaiveer is a javelin athlete who represented Haryana.

 

Dollops of fresh cream and choorma, a fat-friendly mix of roti, ghee and sugar, fed by a doting grandmother meant Neeraj stepped into his teens chubby and flabby. Weighing 80 kg when he was only 11, Neeraj’s introduction to javelin happened by chance during his visits to the Panipat Stadium in his bid to lose weight.

He quickly took a liking for the sport and the rest, as they say, is history. Courtesy: His uncle. He decided to send Neeraj in sports. When he grew up watching athletes playing javelin throw Neeraj decided to take the game to the next level.  In 2014, Neeraj bought his first Javelin worth Rs 7000. Later at the international level, he purchased javelin worth Rs 1 lakh in the national camp he attended.

Star in the Making

 

A country with such a mediocre history in athletics, suddenly woke up one morning, in 2016, when the news of a 19-year-old Indian Javelin thrower creating a world record flashed on social media and television. He threw the Javelin to a distance of 86.48m to win the World U-20 Championships, in Poland. This was a Junior World Record throw.

Also Read: Famous Indian Athletes Who Transformed Indian Sports

A Great Run

The man in the form took no time in becoming Asia’s best as he won the Asian Championships 2017, in Bhubaneswar, by throwing a distance of 85.23m. He also competed in the prestigious IAAF Diamond League Events for the first time in 2017 where he finished seventh.

But there comes a bad patch in every athlete’s life. 2017 was the one where he had a very disappointing outing. For a brief period in 2017, he struggled to better his personal best and be amongst the top ten Javelin throwers in the world.

After training under legendary Uwe Hohn, Neeraj came back strong. He bagged the gold medal in Commonwealth Games 2018 with a throw of 86.47m. Then he threw his personal best of 87.43m in the Doha leg of Diamond League 2018. He won the Asian Games with an 88.06m throw, which was one of the best throws of the season.

International Competitions

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Asian Games memories #warmupthrow

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YearCompetitionVenuePositionEventNotes
2013World Youth ChampionshipsDonetsk, Ukraine19th (Q)Javelin throw (700 g)66.75 m
2015Asian ChampionshipsWulhan, China9thJavelin throw70.50 m
20162016 South Asian GamesGuwahati, IndiaJavelin throw82.23 m
Asian Junior ChampionshipsHo Chi Minh City, VietnamJavelin throw77.60 m
Bydgoszcz, PolandJavelin throw86.48 m
2017Asian Grand Prix SeriesJinhua, ChinaJavelin throw82.11 m
Jiaxing, China83.32 m
Taipei, Taiwan79.90 m
Asian ChampionshipsBhubaneswar, IndiaJavelin throw85.23 m
IAAF Diamond LeagueParis, France7th
(10 pts)
Javelin throw84.67 m
Fontvieille78.92 m
Zurich83.80 m
World ChampionshipsLondon, United Kingdom15th (Q)Javelin throw82.26 m
2018Offenburg Speerwurf MeetingOffenburg, GermanyJavelin throw82.80 m
Commonwealth GamesGold Coast, AustraliaJavelin throw86.47 m
IAAF Diamond LeagueDoha, Qatar4th
(17 pts)
Javelin throw87.43 m
Oregon, USA80.81 m
Rabat, Morocco83.32 m
Zurich Switzerland85.73 m
Sotteville Athletics Meet FranceJavelin throw85.17 m
Savo GamesLapinlahdella, FinlandJavelin throw85.69 m
Asian GamesJakarta and Palembang, IndonesiaNRJavelin throw88.06 m

NR: National Records

WJR: World U20 Junior Records

Q: Qualification round

Current World Ranking

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Commonwealth games 2018 Gold Coast ?86.47m #javelin #nemethjavelins #nordicsport #nike #sweatmore

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DisciplinePlaceScore
Men’s Javelin Throw41320
Men’s Overall Ranking1071320

 

Training with Legendary Coach

Neeraj Chopra receives coaching under the German legend Uwe Hohn. He is a retired German track and field athlete who competed in the javelin throw. He is the only athlete to throw a javelin 100 metres or more, with his world record of 104.80 meters.

A new javelin design was implemented in 1986 and the records had to be restarted, thus Hohn’s mark became an ‘eternal world record’. One can hope that the young talent goes one better than the guru himself.

Job in the Indian Army

India’s lone world record holder athlete joined the Indian army where he was joined as Junior Commissioned Officer. The young talent once said, “I accepted the job as I was desperately in need of a job to sustain my training. Nobody in my family has a government job, now I have received the one and now I can help my family financially.”

Interesting Facts About Neeraj Chopra

 

  • Neeraj weighed 77kg at the age of 13, his uncle was strict and asked him to join sports.
  • He is the second Indian athlete after Vikas Gowda to participate at the Diamond League event.
  • His passion for the javelin throw was fuelled by endless hours of watching every YouTube video of Jan Zelenzy, a retired track and field athlete from the Czech Republic.
  • With a busy practising schedule across India and abroad, Neeraj could attend regular school only up to Class IX and is now studying through the open school system.

Notable Awards

  • Gold medal at the National Junior Championships(under 16) in Lucknow in 2012.
  • Silver medal at the National Youth Championship in 2013.
  • 3World junior record holding javelin thrower at the 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
  • Silver medal in 2016 Asian Junior Championships.
  • Gold medal in the 2017Asian Athletics Championship.
  • Gold glory for the champion in Asian Games in 2018.
  • The young prodigy is already felicitated with the Arjuna Award (2018).
  • He was also nominated for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.

Net Worth

The 20-year-old Neeraj is currently in the fold of JSW Sports. He is also named as brand ambassador by sports drinks giant Gatorade in a partnership that runs up to 2021.

Social Media

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Great things comes with determination and lot of patience PC ? @bernhard.seifert

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Tonight was good night ??????????????thank you for dinner coach Terseus

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India’s Notable Olympic Dream

If there is one dream every sports enthusiast in India sees, it is of an Olympic medal in Athletics. The pain of Milkha Singh and PT Usha’s heartbreaks has stayed in hearts since long. Only a medal at an Olympic’s game will cure this ache.

While there have been a few bringing glories in Asian Games and Commonwealth, the heights Neeraj has hit cannot be ignored. His record-breaking throw in Indonesia would have been good enough to win the Gold Medal in the London Olympics, Silver in Beijing and a Bronze at Rio.

This is the time to cheer this young lad. Though he is not playing in upcoming Asian Athletics Championships due to his injury, he may come strong in Tokyo Olympics 2020. The government and Athletics Federation is ensuring the youngster from Panipat is given adequate funding and the best of facilities, training and coaching.

In a boy from a small town in Haryana lies a now or never moment for Indian sport. The upcoming goal is Tokyo and then, who knows distances do have a way of shortening in the long run!

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