Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra had to take his first throw "hurriedly" in the finals of the Tokyo showpiece as Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem was "moving around" with the Indian star's javelin.
Chopra won the gold with his 87.58m throw in the second attempt, and thus became the only second Indian athlete after Abhinav Bindra to clinch an Olympic top podium finish in individual events.
“The story is that I was searching for my javelin at the start of the final. I was not able to find it. Suddenly I saw Arshad Nadeem was moving around with my javelin. Then I told him, ‘Bhai give this javelin to me, it is my javelin! I have to throw with it’. Then he gave it back to me,” Chopra told The Times of India in an interview.
“That’s why you must have seen I took my first throw hurriedly! Arshad Nadeem gave a really good performance in the qualifying round as well as the final. I think it is good for Pakistan, they have a chance to show more interest in the javelin and do well at the international stage in the future,” he further said.
The 23-year-old Chopra has been on a busy schedule since his return from Tokyo. He also fell ill while attending various felicitation functions.
“I had fever. I used to be drenched in sweat while attending functions and then I used to get into air-conditioned cars. I wasn’t getting any rest and I wasn't eating properly because of the busy routine,” Chopra said in the interview.
Winning an Olympic gold was a dream-come-true moment for him but Chopra has called for things to be systematic. He feels the sport needs continuous attention for things to change at the global level.
Chopra's gold helped India amass its highest-ever medal tally at the Games. India won seven medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics - 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 4 Bronze -- to go one better of their medal haul at the 2012 London Olympics.
“Aisa nahin hona chahiye ki ab medal aa gaya toh sab abhi kar do, aur phir ek mahiney baad sab shaant ho jao (it shouldn't be as if we have to complete every celebration immediately because an Olympic gold medal has come, and then forget about it after a month). The sport needs continuous attention.
“These things need to change. It’s a nice thing that a medal has come but everything needs to be systematic,” he further said.