NEW DELHI, Aug 7 – A nation of 1.3 billion erupted in joy on Saturday after Neeraj Chopra won the men’s javelin at the Tokyo Games to secure India’s first ever Olympic athletics gold post-independence.
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Thirteen years after shooter Abhinav Bindra won independent India’s first individual Olympic gold in Beijing, 23-year-old Chopra obliterated the field with a best throw of 87.58 metres.
Expectations soared after the 23-year-old seized the lead with a throw of 87.03 on his first attempt and his second sealed India’s first Olympic athletics medal.
The cricket-mad country stayed glued to television sets to follow Chopra’s progress, and social media was abuzz as anticipation of a medal grew.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was joined by President Ram Nath Kovind and several other ministers in paying tribute to Chopra’s success.
“History has been scripted at Tokyo! What @Neeraj_chopra1 has achieved today will be remembered forever,” Modi tweeted.
“The young Neeraj has done exceptionally well. He played with remarkable passion and showed unparalleled grit. Congratulations to him for winning the Gold.”
India is the most successful hockey nation in Olympic history with eight men’s titles but has largely been starved of individual success.
The sports fraternity also lavished praise on Chopra who was described by local media as the “man with the golden arm”.
“The impact your victory will create on promoting your sport amongst the country’s youth is immeasurable,” Bindra said in a statement.
“Also, welcome you to the club. It is not the most happening of places yet and needs more members, but I feel your entry is going to pave the way for many more deserving athletes.”
Former athlete PT Usha, who came fourth in the women’s 400 metres at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, also hailed Chopra’s achievement.
“Realised my unfinished dream today after 37 years. Thank you my son @Neeraj_chopra1,” she tweeted, along with a photograph of her with the javelin thrower.Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ed Osmond
AUGUST 7, 2021
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