Oh what a feeling, Chopra wins Olympic Gold

India’s Neeraj Chopra won the javelin title at the Tokyo Games with a personal best throw of 87.58 metres on Saturday night, securing the title with a throw to spare.

“It feels unbelievable,” he said as he stood atop the medal podium, feeling 10 feet tall.

It was India’s first gold medal in Olympic track and field event, its first in any sports since a shooting title in 2008. It was time for celebration.

“This is our first Olympic medal for a very long time, and in athletics it is the first time we have gold, so it’s a proud moment for me and my country.”

India’s only previous medals in Olympic track and field were two silvers won by Norman Pritchard in the 200 metres and the 200 metre hurdles at Paris in 1900. Historians have debated whether the results for Pritchard should be recorded for India or for Britain. Pritchard was born in India to a British colonial family, moved to London before qualifying for the Paris Olympics and later moved to the U.S. and embarked on an acting career.

But no one can dispute the gold medal Chopra won at the Tokyo Olympics last week.

A junior officer in the Indian army with the Rajputana Rifles, Chopra made his first mark on international athletics with a World Junior title in 2016. Two years later, he became the first Indian athlete to win the javelin at the Asian Games and at the Commonwealth Games.

“I come from a farming background,” Chopra said. “I was overweight and wanted to do some fitness training. Somehow I ended up in an academy and picked up javelin throw. The love affair started and now I’m here with this medal standing in front of you.”

He set a new benchmark in Tokyo, holding off Jakub Vadlejch (86.67) and Vitezslav Vesely (85.44), both of the Czech Republic.

India has won eight Olympic gold medals in field hockey, more than any other nation, and the return of the men’s team to the medal podium at the Tokyo Games ”” a bronze ”” after a 41-year drought prompted widespread celebrations.

A first gold medal in track and field has made Chopra a star in India.

It didn’t take long before the rewards started flowing in and was delighted to receive a phone call from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India quickly announced cash rewards for the Olympic medal winners. So did Military leaders.

Chopra was ranked fourth heading into the Olympics but his ranking changed dramatically last week. “Finally I’m an Olympic champion,” said an excited Chopra, the son of a farmer. “Such a proud moment for India and for me. Today they’re all in front of the TV and they’re supporting me; so thank you India.”

In the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, India won one Gold, two Silver and four Bronze medals.

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