Neeraj Chopra created history on Saturday by winning India’s first ever Olympic gold medal in athletics. He won the gold medal in the men’s javelin throw event with a best attempt of 87.58m. The young Indian star achieved this feat, while defeating the likes of world number one Johannes Vetter.
Neeraj kicked-off the finals with a gigantic 87.03m and then aced it up in the second attempt by reaching the 87.58m mark which ultimately helped him grab the gold medal. However, the third and fourth attempt by the Indian didn’t count. In the fifth and final attempt, Neeraj threw 84.24m.
Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch and Vítězslav Veselý bagged the silver and bronze medals respectively. Vadlejch’s best throw of 86.67m, earned him the silver medal, came in his fifth attempt while Veselý threw 85.44m to finish third.
He is the second individual gold medalist for India at the Olympics after Abhinav Bindra’s gold in shooting in 2008 Beijing. He put an end to India’s longest wait for a medal in a global sport like athletics.
The country had longed for an athletics medal after narrow misses from Milkha Singh, PT Usha and Anju Bobby George in the Olympics over the years. He dedicated his medal to athletic legend Milkha Singh.
“I dedicate this medal to Milkha Singh. I hope he’s watching upon me from wherever he is,” he told the media after winning the gold medal.
“It feels unbelievable. It is the first time India has won gold in athletics, so I feel very good. We have just one gold here in other sports,” the 23-year old javelin star said. “This is our first Olympic medal for a very long time, and in athletics it is the first time we have won gold, so it’s a proud moment for me and my country.”
“In the qualification round I threw very well so I knew I could do better in the final. (But) I didn’t know it would be gold but I am very happy.” said Neeraj who was playing in the Olympics for the first time.
Earlier, Bajrang Punia proved his class and added another medal to India’s wrestling history, by defeating Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan 8-0 to win the 65kg freestyle bronze medal bout. “I am not happy. This is not the result I had set out to achieve. Winning an Olympic medal is no mean achievement but I can’t jump with joy with bronze,” Punia was quoted as saying by PTI.
Meanwhile earlier on Saturday, India had a disappointing start when Aditi Ashok, who came very close to a historic Olympic medal at the Tokyo 2020 in women’s golf, finished fourth. The whole country was cheering for her by waking up at the wee hours and learning the golf rules for the first time. Aditi finished 15 under and needed a birdie in the 72nd hole to force a bronze medal playoff with Lydia Ko, but that was not to be as Ko got a par score on the 18th, forcing a silver medal playoff herself with Japan’s Inami Mone.
With just a day left for Tokyo Olympics, the biggest sporting event to come to an end, India can proudly return after recording the highest ever medal tally in the history of Olympics by winning 7 medals (one gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze). Previously the highest medal tally was in 2012 London Olympics with a total of 6 medals (2 silver, 4 bronze).