September 29, 2021

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Chopra spearheaded India’s first Olympic gold in athletics

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Tokyo Airport (AFP)

Indian Neeraj Chopra achieved the biggest success of his career by hanging out in the Tokyo-2020 gold javelin throw this Saturday, his country’s first Olympic title in athletics.

Chopra, who won with a distance of 87.58 meters, won silver and bronze on stage, beating two Czechs, Jacob Watlesch (86.67) and Wittslav Wesley (85.44), respectively.

“It’s an incredible feeling. This is the first time India has won gold in athletics, so I feel very good,” the champion said.

“This is a proud moment for me and my country,” he added. “I threw well during the qualifying round and I know I can do better. I don’t know if it will be gold, but I’m very happy,” he said.

For India, the world’s second most populous country, it is the tenth gold medal in its Olympic history, taking all sports into account.

The country, which has been non-stop at the Summer Olympics since Antwerp-1920, has its best gold reserve in field hockey, with eight Olympic titles.

The only Olympic gold for India outside of hockey was shot in Beijing-2008 with Abhinav Bindra. Now Chopra has been added to the list.

In athletics, India has won two Olympic medals so far thanks to Norman Britzard, an Indian of British descent, in the 200m and 200m hurdles at the Paris-1900 Games.

Until now, Chopra’s (23-year-old) success at big events has been in the youth events, i.e. at the 2016 Junior World Cup in Pitcairn (Poland) or continental events where he won the Asian Championship and won gold at the 2017 and 2018 Asian Games.

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He participated in the World Cup London-2017, but failed to qualify for the finals.

German Johannes Wetter, the 2017 world champion and world bronze medalist in 2019, had a tough match despite being a favorite. He was in ninth place, after staying only 82.52 meters.