When you make the cut to your maiden Olympics, you dream of making it to the centre of the podium with a gold medal in your hands. That’s exactly what a certain 23-year-old lad from India, Neeraj Chopra, dreamt of. Fast forward to today, and now, the man from Panipat has scripted history, not only for himself but also for his country India. A billion dreams rested on his shoulders and the Javeline thrower literally threw his name into the record books. How did he manage to do it? Well, read on to find out!
Neeraj Chopra: Javelin Throw Finals
The Javelin throw finals were contested between the 12 best athletes from the qualifying rounds. Neeraj Chopra from India, was well and truly into the finals after a fantastic throw of over 86 metres. It guaranteed him a finals place, which was about to take place three days later. Along with Neeraj, there were other athletes such as Arshad Nadeem from Pakistan, Julian Weber from Germany, Vitezslav Vesely from the Czech Republic, and the overwhelming favourite Johannes Vetter from Germany.
Men’s Javelin Final: The Starting 12’s
The starting 12’s of the Men’s Javelin throw finals at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, looked like this –
- Neeraj Chopra (India)
- Jakub Vadlejch (Czech Republic)
- Vitezslav Vesely (Czech Republic)
- Julian Weber (Germany)
- Arshad Nadeem (Pakistan)
- Aliaksei Katkavets (Belarus)
- Andrian Mardare (Moldova)
- Lassi Etelatalo (Finland)
- Johannes Vetter (Germany)
- Pavel Mialeshka (Belarus)
- Kim Amb (Sweden)
- Alexandru Mihaita Novac (Romania)
All the 12 athletes got 3 attempts to make a mark in the first found of the finals. After 3 attempts, only the next best 8 were to receive an extra 3 attempts. Thus, it was essential for Neeraj Chopra to stay in the top 8 to guarantee himself three more extra throws and a shot at medalling. But boy oh boy, Neeraj Chopra was in the form of his life and after a stellar 87.03-metre throw in his first attempt, he went half a metre better with his second attempt. An excellent throw of 87.58 metres with his second attempt kept him in gold position after 2 rounds.
On the other hand, the favourite Johannes Vetter was finding it hard to even cross the 83-metre mark. Although he did manage to keep himself in the top 8, but an excellent throw by Belarus athlete Katkavets in his final attempt, pushed the German out of the top 8. It was curtains for the German javelin thrower as the final headed into the final round of 3 more attempts.
Men’s Javelin Throw: The Final Round
The final round of the Men’s Javelin throw event was between the top 8. Athletes went in reverse order, starting from 8th place right up to Neeraj Chopra who was sitting pretty on 1st. All the athletes went about giving their best shot to topple Neeraj Chopra, but were unsuccessful. Although it must be said that Vadlejch from the Czech Republic came agonisingly close with an 86.67 metres throw in his 5th attempt (his season’s best). But when Vadlejch’s final attempt resulted in a poor attempt, it confirmed a gold medal for Neeraj Chopra!
Neeraj Chopra: The Golden Boy
As soon as Neeraj Chopra won gold, the whole of India went berserk on social media, and why wouldn’t they? A second individual gold medal for India at the Olympics (after Abhinav Bindra’s gold at Beijing 2008) calls for a celebration. After watching Neeraj Chopra secure gold, it reminded me of a famous quote by Nelson Mandela. He said, “Sports have the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create hope, where there was once only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. Sports is the game of lovers.“
Neeraj Chopra has created history for India, and at the same time, given hope to the upcoming generations that hardwork and dedication can take you places. Well done, Neeraj Chopra. You are a true champion and superstar! India is extremely product of you!