HomeAthletesInspiring StoriesNeeraj Chopra: The Spearman strikes another gold at Savo Games
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Neeraj Chopra: The Spearman strikes another gold at Savo Games

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Neeraj Chopra bags gold in Finland

Neeraj Chopra the star Indian javelin thrower won gold in the Savo Games in Finland on Sunday, His performance on this day had impressed the audience, beating his Chinese Taipei rival Chai-Tsun Cheng as both the opponents warmed up for the Asian games showdown.

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The Spearman holds the title for achieving gold in Commonwealth Games and Asian season leader, gave a throw of 86.69m in the event held at Lapinlahti, Finland, where he is training as part of preparations for Asian Games.

Cheng managed to give a throw of 82.52m, where he took the second place. The 23-year-old Chinese lad Cheng is the only Asian to have thrown the javelin beyond 90m. His throw of 91.36m, last year in Taipei wrecked the previous Asian record by Zhao Qinggang of China which was set for 89.15m at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.

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87.43m is Neeraj’s personal best and national record, which he achieved during the opening of the Diamond League Meeting in Doha in May.

Ahead of Cheng and Ahmed Bader Magour of Qatar is the Indian Javelin thrower Neeraj and is taking the lead this season amongst the Asians.

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Neeraj Chopra – The Spearman from Khandra

Neeraj Chopra - KreedOn
Neeraj Chopra – KreedOn

The village has endless fields and it is not known for producing some world-class athletes. Neither did Neeraj show signs as he would emerge as one. As a 12-year-old kid, Chopra weighed around 90kgs, which was soo much for a small kid. So much that when he wore a white ‘Kurta-Payjama’, the kids in the village started to tease him by calling him a ‘Sarpanch’ (Village Chief).

Neeraj, the eldest child in a joint family of 17 members, his adoring grandmother guaranteed he got a massive share of the malai, Makhan, and Doodh. As a matter of fact, Neeraj would never say no to another generous helping, a major reason for putting on weight.

His family was seriously concerned about his weight. “We didn’t want him to grow up as an obese man. When he came home that day telling us that the kids were teasing him by calling him sarpanch, we felt hurt. We needed to do something,” father Satish Kumar recalls.

About six kilometers away from Neeraj’s home, there is a basic gym in a small town named Madluada, where his family enrolled him. A heavy dairy-rich meal of paranthas submerged in ghee and large glasses of fresh and creamy milk before rushing to the gym. But they didn’t mind, as long as he was burning the calories away.

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Neeraj Chopra: His reach towards Javelin

His normal gym workout ended by six, but his uncle Bhim most of the time would reach there between seven or eight to pick him up. Out of boredom, he started going to the Panipat SAI center, a quick walk from the gym. That’s where javelin thrower Jaiveer began noticing him. “I just asked him if he would like to throw the javelin once. Without any training, he gave a throw close to 40m and I was so impressed. From there on, I trained him for a year and saw that he had the desire to do something (bigger). Once, during a grueling running session he fainted out of exhaustion, such was his desire,” recalls Jaiveer

He started training under Jaiveer in 2011 and the very next year he grabbed a junior medal in Lucknow. The very first time his name appeared in the newspapers and he wasn’t able to control his excitement.

Jaiveer says he knew all along that Neeraj had something special about him. “Despite being overweight initially, he was very agile and flexible. There wasn’t a drill that he couldn’t do. The first year we had a lot of ups and downs but he picked up extremely fast,” says Jaiveer, who talks to Neeraj almost every other day.

In 2016, he made his village Khandra proud and known with India’s first-ever gold at the World Championship, in Poland with an enormous throw of 86.48m. He then improved it two years later at the Qatar Diamond league with 87.43m for a fourth finish.

Neeraj Chopra – The spearman’s Family

Neeraj Chopra - KreedOn
Neeraj Chopra – KreedOn

Before Neeraj swooped into Olympics, his entire family and the whole village, had no idea what a javelin was or whether such a sport existed. “Hume toh pata hi Nahi tha bhaala phekna Bhi Ek Khel Hota Hai. (We did not even know such a sport existed) We have just seen wrestling and kabaddi,” says dad Satish, laughing.

“When I first heard the name of Jan Zelezny (three-time Olympic champion) I was like “ye toh ajeeb Naam hai (this is a weird name)”, But now it’s different, and I take a lot of interest in my son’s discipline and follow the sport closely,” he says.

However, there are certain rules for the family members when it comes to contacting Neeraj. While making a call, every person will get a few minutes, including his parents. No individual calls are allowed. The reason: “His mind should be fixed on his sport. As a father, I desire to talk to my son every hour. But the day he won a medal at the nationals he no longer remained just our child, he’s the nation’s son. He needs to keep us off his mind,” Satish explains.

Neeraj has a habit of speaking softly. He greets his competitors with a charming smile with a glow on his face, which has won over a lot of athletes.

When Neeraj stood on the podium with a gold medal around his neck for the win at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the whole of Khandra village struck their eyes to the television.

As the Asian Games are coming, the entire village will be mesmerized on their beloved “Sarpanch” Neeraj.

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Saad Kazi
Saad Kazi
Saad Kaazi is very persistent when it comes to providing quality content to his viewers. He has spent time working and polishing his skills on how to deliver value the way his audience would like. His interest in sports was right from the beginning of his school days. Writing and gathering information about sports is just a bonus for him as his job.


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