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Neeraj Chopra’s journey from being body shamed to winning India’s 1st Olympic gold in athletics

Neeraj Chopra’s journey from being body shamed to winning India’s 1st Olympic gold in athletics

Neeraj Chopra’s journey from being body shamed to winning India’s 1st Olympic gold in athletics
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By Aug 7, 2021 7:30:30 PM IST (Published)

Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian athlete to clinch Olympics gold with a stellar javelin throw of 87.58 m.

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra won India’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Games on August 7 on his spectacular Olympic debut.

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With a stellar throw of 87.58 m, the 23-year-old became the first Indian athlete to clinch Olympics gold. Also, he’s only the second Indian to win Olympic gold after shooter Abhinav Bindra’s Beijing Olympics 2008 feat.
Congratulating him on the glorious victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “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.”
After the striking win at Tokyo Games, many may find it hard to believe that Chopra’s journey wasn’t as effortless as his throw made it look.
Chopra weighed close to 90 kg when was 12 and was made fun of by his peers. When his parents felt hurt because of the body shaming, he began working out at a gym 6 km away from home.
His village in Haryana, where close to 500 families reside, doesn’t have a single playground, sports stadium, or gymnasium.
Chopra’s foray into athletics was marked by his excessive body weight and the steps he took to control it.
Being the youngest, he had a tough time at the gym too and ended up using equipment that no one else wanted. When he told his parents that he didn’t like the gym, they sent him to Panipat and that’s how his journey as an athlete began.
Chopra went to the Sports Authority of India centre in Panipat where he met javelin thrower Jaiveer who introduced him to the sport. His first throw sans any training was close to 40m that impressed Jaiveer. Thereafter, he began training and the rest is history.
Chopra drafted history in 2016 when he became the first athlete to win gold at the U-20 World Championships in Poland. He followed it up by a gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games, and by another gold at the Asian Athletic championships the following year.
The farmer’s son from Haryana’s Khandra village also won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and was conferred the Arjuna Award the same year.
His village and his family of 19 have been celebrating ever since he qualified for the finals on August 4.
Chopra’s father Satish Kumar was confident of his son’s win in the Tokyo Olympics finals.
People in his village were glued to their TV screens to see the star athlete perform at the world’s biggest stage of sports. Soon after he won gold, they gathered at his residence to celebrate and distribute sweets.
Chopra is an alumnus of Kurukshetra University and currently holds the post of a subedar in the Indian Army.
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