Tokyo: “It feels unbelievable,” said star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra after his history-making gold in the Olympics on Saturday, claiming to have been unsure of a top podium finish despite a remarkably confident performance.
Chopra had topped the qualification three days ago and did better than that in the finals as he produced a best throw of 87.58m to become only the second Indian to win individual gold in Olympics, also the first track-and-field medal for the country.
“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 said after winning the historic gold.
“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.”
Asked if he was surprised to win gold which also featured German great Johannes Vetter, he said, “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.”
Few would have thought that Chopra would bludgeon his way to gold in such a dominant fashion at the grandest of the stage.
Just like in the qualification round, Chopra began with a bang by sending the spear to a distance of 87.03m and then improved it to 87.58m, his best of the day which none in the field could match.
His third throw was a poor 76.76m, he then fouled his next two attempts before a final effort of 84.24m.
By the time the Nordic javelin left his right hand in his second attempt, he knew that it was going the farthest among all and he raised both his arms in jubilation, confident that the job had been done.
Season leader and pre-tournament gold favourite Johannes Vetter of Germany, who had thrown the spear to 90m plus distances seven times between April and June, was shockingly eliminated after the first three throws as he was placed ninth with a best effort of 82.52m.
PM Modi, President Kovind laud Chopra’s ‘unparalleled grit’
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the young javelin thrower’s “unparalleled grit” for a landmark gold-winning feat at the Tokyo Games.
Applauding his effort, President Kovind described it as an “unprecedented” achievement which will prove to be an inspiration for the youth of this country.
“Unprecedented win by Neeraj Chopra! Your javelin gold breaks barriers and creates history. You bring home first ever track and field medal to India in your first Olympics. Your feat will inspire our youth. India is elated! Heartiest congratulations!,” Kovind tweeted.
Congratulating Chopra, Prime Minister Modi said his performance will be remembered for ages.
“History has been scripted at Tokyo! What @Neeraj_chopra1 has achieved today will be remembered forever. The young Neeraj has done exceptionally well. He played with remarkable passion and showed unparalleled grit. Congratulations to him for winning the Gold. #Tokyo2020,” tweeted Modi.