Interesting facts about India's Olympic gold-medalist Neeraj Chopra
Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has become the talk of the town after clinching a historic gold in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The 23-year-old became the second Indian to win an Olympic gold medal (individual event). With a stunning throw of 87.58m in the javelin throw final, Neeraj secured the first-ever Olympic gold medal for India in athletics. Here're some interesting facts about him.
Chopra hails from Khandra village in the Panipat district of Haryana. Apart from being an athlete, he also serves as a Junior Commissioned Officer in the Indian Army with the rank of Naib Subedar. He first held the role in 2016.
In his initial few years, Chopra used to register a throw of 55 meters. He won the 2012 junior nationals in Lucknow by registering a throw of 68.40 meters (national record). Chopra won his first international medal in 2014 (silver), at the Youth Olympics Qualification in Bangkok. He recorded his first throw of over 70 meters at the 2014 senior nationals.
Chopra registered a world record throw of 81.04 meters in the junior category at the 2015 All India Inter-University Athletics Meet. Notably, this was his first throw of over 80m. Chopra then earned his maiden call-up for the national-level training camp in 2015. A year later, he set a world junior record at the 2016 IAAF World Under-20 Championships (86.48m) in Bydgoszcz (won gold).
In 2018, Chopra became the only track and field athlete to be nominated by the Athletics Federation of India for the country's highest sports award (Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award). However, he was conferred with the Arjuna Award in September 2018. Indian President Ram Nath Kovind had presented him with the award at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
Chopra broke the national record with a throw of 87.43m at the Doha Diamond League in 2018. He bettered his record at the 2018 Asian Games with a throw of 88.06m to win the gold medal. This was India's first gold in the javelin throw at the Asian Games. In 2021, Chopra once again broke his own national record with a throw of 88.07m.
Chopra suffered a severe elbow injury in May 2019. After 16 months of rehabilitation, he returned to the international circuit with participation in the ACNW League Meeting in Potchefstroom. He registered a winning throw of 87.86m. This qualified him for his maiden Olympics (Tokyo 2020 Games). And, the rest is history! Neeraj Chopra, the man with the 'golden arm', brought glory to India.