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Monday, September 27, 2021

Tokyo stars Neeraj Chopra, Bajrang Punia at Express Adda today

Chopra’s gold helped India sign off Tokyo 2020 in style as they finished with their best-ever performance.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 3, 2021 8:15:07 pm
Bajrang Punia and Neeraj Chopra.

Last month, on the day wrestler Bajrang Punia won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Games, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra made history by winning India’s first track and field Olympics medal. Chopra’s gold helped India sign off Tokyo 2020 in style as they finished with their best-ever performance.

Chopra and Punia are the guests at an online Adda hosted by The Indian Express on Friday evening. They are in conversation with Sandeep Dwivedi, sports editor, The Indian Express, and assistant editor Mihir Vasavda who covered the Tokyo Olympics.

Chopra, who became India’s first track and field medalist and the country’s second gold medalist after Abhinav Bindra, had won the junior world championship, Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medal. But heading into the Tokyo Olympics, the 23-year-old was under-prepared as he could not compete in important international meets for almost two years — first due to an injury and then because of the pandemic.

However, he showed no signs of nerves or rustiness in Tokyo, where he demolished the javelin throw field. In qualification, he needed just one throw of 86.65 metres to seal a spot in the final, where he was virtually assured of a medal after his second attempt of 87.58 metres. Ultimately, that effort turned out to be the one that secured the gold medal.

It was a seminal moment, not just for Indian track and field but also for Indian sport overall, as Chopra’s gold helped India surpass its previous best tally of six medals, won at the 2012 London Olympics.

Punia made it to the podium with a win over Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov in the bronze medal bout. The 27-year-old had podium finishes in every major tournament – the World Championship, Asian Championship, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games – and was one of India’s biggest medal prospects in the 65-kg weight class, considered to be one of the toughest. He lived up to the billing, defeating his Kazakh opponent 8-0 in the playoff to win India’s seventh wrestling medal at the Olympics.

The Express Adda is a series of informal interactions organised by The Indian Express Group and features those at the centre of change. Past guests at the event include actor Manoj Bajpayee, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, CNN host Fareed Zakaria, actor Pankaj Tripathi, economist N K Singh, and writer and Morgan Stanley strategist Ruchir Sharma.

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