1 Gold, 2 Silvers and 4 bronzes: 1.3 billion people say thanks to Olympics heroes on their return

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An artist makes a Rangoli to congratulate Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra for winning Gold at Tokyo Olympics 2020 (ANI Photo)

Our Bureau
Tokyo/New Delhi

Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra’s historic golden throw in the Olympics has been listed as one of the 10 magical moments of athletics (track and field) in the Tokyo Olympics by the World Athletics.

The 23-year-old Chopra created history on Saturday as he became the first from the country to win a gold in track and field in the Olympics. He threw the javelin to a distance of 87.58m to pick the yellow metal at the Tokyo Games. “Most keen followers of the sport had heard of Neeraj Chopra before the Olympic Games. But after winning the javelin in Tokyo, and in the process becoming India’s first athletics gold medallist in Olympic history, Chopra’s profile sky-rocketed,” the World Athletics website read.

Neeraj had 143,000 followers before the Olympics but now has a staggering 3.2million, making him the most followed track and field athlete in the world. “Still processing this feeling,” he recently posted. “To all of India and beyond, thank you so much for your support and blessings that have helped me reach this stage. This moment will live with me forever.”

Colonel of Rajputana Rifles Lt Gen KJS Dhillon felicitated Tokyo Olympics gold medalist javelin thrower Subedar Neeraj Chopra and Olympics semi-finalist wrestler Subedar Deepak Punia with a cheque of Rs 6 lakhs & Rs 4.55 lakhs, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Several ‘Firsts’ and other highlights came out of Tokyo 2020 for India, starting with Neeraj Chopra, who won the historic gold for India in athletics by throwing 87.58m at the men’s Javelin Throw final. Not only is this Independent India’s first gold in Athletics at the Olympics but also the only medal ever by an Indian from Athletics.

PV Sindhu became the only female sportsperson from India, to win two successive Olympics medals – silver in Rio 2016 and bronze in Tokyo 2020. Mirabai Chanu joined the legendary Karnam Malleswari to become the only second weightlifting medallist from the country and the very first weightlifter to win the silver medal.

The Indian men’s hockey team, meanwhile, won their first medal in hockey at the Olympics since their gold medal at the Moscow Olympics 1980, whereas the India women’s hockey team entered the semifinals of the Olympics for the first time ever. The Tokyo Games, which saw a record representation of 128 athletes from India, also registered their highest tally of medals from any Olympics, which were 7 medals.

Ravi Dahiya became the second wrestler to win the Olympics silver medal from the country, while Lovlina Borgohain became the second female Olympics bronze medalist after the great Mary Kom, and the third Indian boxer overall to win an Olympics medal.

The other highlights of the games included Bhavani Devi, Nethra Kumanan and Aditi Ashok. While Bhavani became the only fencer from India to make it to the Olympics since the sport was introduced, Nethra became the first female sailor from India to qualify for the Olympics. Aditi Ashok, meanwhile, finished 4th in golf and registered the highest-placed finish for any Indian in the sport at the Olympics.

Lalit Bhanot, the Chairman of Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) Planning Committee, on Tuesday said they will stage javelin throwing competitions every year on August 7. “Athletics Federation of India’s planning committee has decided to further promote javelin throwing and will hold competitions every year throughout the country on August 7 as Neeraj Chopra won the gold in Tokyo on this day,” Bhanot said in a felicitation program organised for Neeraj Chopra by the AFI.

Meanwhile, Neeraj Chopra arrived back home to a thunderous and grand welcome on Monday. Upon arriving at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here in New Delhi, the javelin thrower was swamped by supporters.

The star athlete said he couldn’t believe it when he won the gold medal as the competition in the multi-sporting event was “quite tough”.

“Every athlete dreams of winning a medal in the Olympics, I won gold and I couldn’t believe it as the competition was quite tough and there were many good throwers but I performed well and won gold,” said Neeraj.

“I thought I was living a dream but when I saw my medal I realised ‘yes I have won gold in Olympics’. When I came back to India, I realised that I have done something worth getting respect from the people,” he added.

This year the Games were held with COVID-19 induced restrictions and all events were held behind closed doors.

Olympian Anju Bobby George feels Neeraj Chopra’s gold medal in javelin throw at the Tokyo Olympics will motivate more sportsperson to pick athletics as a discipline in sports. Neeraj Chopra created history on Saturday as he became the first from the country to win a gold in track and field in the Olympics. He threw the javelin to a distance of 87.58m to pick the gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

“World Champion medal or an Olympic medal in athletics is something great, it is not easy because we are competing against multiple opponents and 216 countries so the value is more,” Anju Bobby George told ANI. “Common talk was like athletics getting a medal is not that easy but now it is gold from Olympics so beyond that what else we can ask and what else we can expect. Our chances are bright and more sportspersons will come into athletics and they can find it as a career option,” she added.

Anju Bobby George had finished 6th in the long jump event of the Athens Olympics. The Olympian cited her example to describe how big Neeraj’s achievement is.

“Athletics competition is beyond our imagination, and the world is competing for that it’s the mother of all sport. Like football, athletic Olympic medal has that kind of value,” she said.

“So, the competition toughness is very high and equal athletes are competing. (Johannes) Vetter was there but Neeraj won the gold, so the competitive spirit is different.

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