A podium finish for an Indian in athletics world championship is as rare as Kumbh Mela. Only a few in the likes of Milkha Singh and PT Usha who went close to it.
They say that Indians are not genetically suited for athletics to compete against the world’s best. Neeraj Chopra, on the other hand, an 18-year-old Indian athlete says “Jab hard work chalta hai na honsle ke sath, tab sabhi uske saamne pheeke pad jaata hain (When you work hard enough with willpower, the external factors fade away)”.
Neeraj Chopra- Javelin Throw
5 years ago, Neeraj was an ordinary young boy from a village Khandra in Panipat district, Haryana. He was playing sports for fitness but little did he know about his future when his friend introduced him to throwing events. After looking at the throws of the senior Javelin throwers, he got amused and tried his hands with the spear.
The talent was evident to seniors and they encouraged Neeraj to start training and take up the sport seriously. He used to take lifts from passing vehicles to travel 16-17 km from his village to training ground due to lack of public transport connectivity. The money coming from home was also limited and not enough to buy the diet of an athlete.
The journey of Neeraj Chopra so far:
After few practice and confidence boost, Neeraj participated in his first national tournament and won the gold. He advanced his training after this and joined the national camp for exposure and experience. He reportedly says he learned a lot from seniors like Rajender Singh and watching videos of foreign javelin throwers.
By 2014, Neeraj was able to buy his first Javelin worth Rs 7000/- of mediocre quality. While he availed the international level javelin worth 1 lakh in the national camp he attended. His family also had to deal with a cultural shock that Neeraj was eating meat but they understood his nutritional requirements & considered the competition at the highest level.
Fortune favors the brave: Neeraj Chopra
Years of practice passed and in April 2016, before the Olympics and junior world championship, Neeraj faced a back injury. But with the belief of his coaches and support from the athletic federation, he rose from a back injury to winning the U-20 Javelin throw junior world championship, not by a margin but convincingly.
He broke the record of the longest Javelin throw in the history of U-20 World Championships. It was 86.48m. Long enough to push the senior world rank of a young boy to 9th position for a temporary period. Long enough to become the second Indian to win a gold medal at an IAAF world event after long jumper Anju Bobby George.
And, Long enough to fetch a bronze medal in RIO Olympics if he would have qualified. (85m – Bronze). He also broke the existing national senior record of 82.23m.
He was 10 days short of qualification deadline for RIO. His last attempt to qualify was in SAFF Games where he missed qualification by 77 cm. Owing to his injury limitations in SAFF Games, Neeraj decided to rest before world championships and it paid off.
Currently studying in DAV College, he also credits his Australian coach, Garry Calvert. He is preparing for the upcoming Asian and Commonwealth games to win medals for India. He wants to get trained in Finland, Europe which is also the hub of this sport.
Neeraj Chopra In Army
Neeraj Chopra holds the junior world record in the javelin throw, now has been appointed a Junior Commissioned Officer by the Indian Army. He won’t join anytime soon as he will be on leave for some time to train at the national camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Bangalore.
“I have left my regular college studies at DAV College, Chandigarh. Now I will complete my graduation through a correspondence course. I have joined the Indian Army as a Junior Commissioned Officer and completed the formalities in December last year and reported at the headquarters in New Delhi. I am training at SAI Bangalore on leave,” Chopra told PTI in an interview.
Neeraj Chopra Ranking
- Neeraj Chopra holds the junior world record in the javelin throw
- Despite being a junior athlete, that stunning throw put him at No 11 in senior rankings
It is always a proud moment to see our country getting medals in international games. One such family has made it a habit of getting the prestigious award. Follow us to know interesting and inspiring stories in Indian Sports.