Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra won the silver medal in the men’s javelin event at the World Games today, making him the second Indian and the first male athlete to win a medal in the event. Anju legend Bobby George won a medal in the sport with a long jump bronze in the 2003 edition.
Celebrations took place at Mr Chopra’s home in Haryana’s Panipat soon after the 24-year-old produced a personal best throw of 88.13m to finish second. Family members were seen distributing laddoos to the guests soon after the medal announcement. The women of the family, who were mostly in the house, broke into dance to celebrate his victory.
“We are very happy that his hard work has paid off,” Neeraj Chopra’s mother, Saroj Chopra, told NDTV.
“We wanted to win a gold medal but we are happy that he won a silver,” said Dharamsingh Chopra, Neeraj Chopra’s grandfather, as tears rolled down his face.
“We expected gold but this performance (winning a medal) itself is a record in Indian history. In 2003, Anju Bobby George won the bronze medal in the long jump. Neeraj has set history today by winning the first silver medal for India in the World Championships. He always creates history,” Gaurav, a relative of Neeraj Chopra, told NDTV.
Mr Chopra, who had come into the showpiece as a hot medal favourite, started with an erratic throw and had 82.39m and 86.37m to come fourth after three rounds. He jumped into second place with a massive fourth round throw of 88.13m, a fourth career best effort.
“I am happy that he has reached the second position,” his father told NDTV, which was with the family at their home in Panipat.
Mr. Chopra’s family joined neighbors and relatives as they watched the live broadcast of the tournament in Oregon, USA. Local receiver, Panipat, Sushil Sarwan was seen sitting with family on the front road as they watched the match.
Inspired by Mr Chopra’s performance at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, where he won gold, most of the young men in his village have taken up horse riding.
“We have also started training for javelin throwing. We train every day in the evening,” said a neighbour, who was at Mr Chopra’s house.
“We are very happy that Neeraj bhaiya get the medal,” said another.
Defenseman Anderson Peters of Grenada won gold with a best throw of 90.54m while Olympic silver medalist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic won bronze with 88.09m.
Mr Chopra won the A group qualifying round and qualified for the finish in second place behind Peters by sending his pole to 88.39m for a third career best throw. Peters won Group B with an effort of 89.91m.
Another Indian in contention, Rohit Yadav finished 10th with a best throw of 78.72m. Rohit finished 11th overall in the qualification round with a best throw of 80.42m.
The 21-year-old Indian had set a season record and personal best of 82.54m while winning a silver at the National Inter-State Championships last month.
Mr. Chopra had won India’s maiden athletics gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year. He is only the second Indian to win an individual gold at the Olympics, after shooter Abhinav Bindra, who struck the yellow metal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
With inputs from PTI