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  5. PM Narendra Modi speaks to Neeraj Chopra on Olympic gold: 'He personifies the best of sporting talent'

PM Narendra Modi speaks to Neeraj Chopra on Olympic gold: 'He personifies the best of sporting talent'

Chopra won the country's seventh medal and first gold in this Olympics and joined shooter Abhinav Bindra (2008 Beijing Games) as India's individual gold winners in the showpiece.

India TV Sports Desk Written by: India TV Sports Desk New Delhi Updated on: August 07, 2021 20:44 IST
Neeraj Chopra and Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Image Source : AP | PTI

Neeraj Chopra and Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Saturday became only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics, out-performing the field by quite a distance to notch up the first track-and-field Games medal for the country.

The 23-year-old farmer's son from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana produced a second round throw of 87.58m in the finals to stun the athletics world and end India's 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics.

Chopra won the country's seventh medal and first gold in this Olympics and joined shooter Abhinav Bindra (2008 Beijing Games) as India's individual gold winners in the showpiece.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also showered praise on the javelin thrower and said that Chopra's achievement will be remembered forever.

"History has been scripted at Tokyo! What @Neeraj_chopra1 has achieved today will be remembered forever. The young Neeraj has done exceptionally well. He played with remarkable passion and showed unparalleled grit. Congratulations to him for winning the Gold," he tweeted.

He also spoke to Chopra over the phone and appreciated the 23-year-old's "hard work and tenacity"

"Unprecedented win by Neeraj Chopra! Your javelin gold breaks barriers and creates history. You bring home first ever track and field medal to India in your first Olympics. Your feat will inspire our youth. India is elated! Heartiest congratulations!," President Ram Nath Kovind. 

Sports Minister Anurag Thakur also showered praise on Chopra. "NEERAJ CHOPRA. India's Golden Boy. India’s Olympic History has been scripted! Your superbly soaring throw deserves a Billion Cheers! Your name will be etched in the history books with golden letters," he wrote.

Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju also extended wishes to Chopra. 

Rijiju tweeted, "History has been made, Milkha Singh Ji's wish is fulfilled as India wins first-ever Olympic medal in Athletics! A golden moment 4 India as Neeraj Chopra won Olympic Gold medal for India at #Tokyo2020  Congratulations  @Neeraj_chopra1 on this historic achievement!"

"Historic Athletic Gold medal. Big Congratulations @Neeraj_chopra1for winning gold medal for India #Tokyo2020 you make us all proud. #Cheer4India," tweeted boxer MC Mary Kom,a bronze medallist in 2012 London Olympics.

"GOLD This is the tweet. This is the emotion. Thank you Neeraj Chopra for giving us this joy. You have inspired us, you have given us hopes. You are our hero," tweeted shooter Gagan Narang, who won bronze medal in London in 2012.

With this, the country surpassed the previous best haul of six medal achieved in the 2012 London Games. Czech Republic throwers Jakub Vadlejch (86.67m) and Vitezslav Vesely (85.44m) took the silver and bronze respectively.

Chopra came into the final as a medal contender after topping the qualification round on Wednesday with a stunning first round throw of 86.59m.

But few would have thought he would bludgeon his way to gold in such a dominant fashion at the grandest of the stage.

Season leader and pre-tournament gold favourite Johannes Vetter of Germany, who had thrown the javelin to 90m plus distances seven times between April and June, was eliminated after the first three throws as he was placed ninth with a best effort of 82.52m.

Top eight after the first three throws get three more attempts while the remaining four in the 12-man final are eliminated. With his fifth career best throw, Chopra has done something which the likes of late Milkha Singh and P T Usha could not do in 1960 and 1984 editions.

No Indian has won a medal in athletics since the country started taking part in the Games in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium. Three track and field athletes were part of the five-member team -- the other two being wrestlers -- in that game.

The International Olympic Committee still credits Norman Pritchard's 200m and 200m hurdles silver medals in the 1900 Paris Olympics to India though various researches, including the records of then IAAF (now World Athletics), showed that he had competed for Great Britain.

In any case, Pritchard was not an Indian and the country's first Olympic participation under a national Olympic body was in 1920. Since then, track and field athletes have been an integral part of Indian contingents in almost all the editions of the Games. 

(With PTI Inputs)

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