India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is likely to get a promotion in the Indian Army for creating history by ending the country’s agonising wait for the first athletics gold medal in the Olympics.
Chopra, a Subedar with the 4 Rajputana Rifles in the Indian Army, had been conferred the prestigious Vishist Seva Medal (VSM) for his sporting excellence.
The 23-year-old son of a farmer from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana produced a second-round throw of 87.58m in the javelin throw finals on Saturday to end India’s 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics.
Subedar Chopra will get a promotion as per the laid down norms and procedures for his stellar performance at the Tokyo Olympics, people familiar with the matter said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the armed forces on Saturday hailed the Army man, saying he made the country proud by performing like a “true soldier”.
Chopra was enrolled into the 4 Rajputana Rifles as a Naib Subedar on 15 May 15, 2016.
After joining the Army, he was selected for training at the ‘Mission Olympics Wing’ as well as at the Army Sports Institute, Pune.
The Mission Olympics Wing is an initiative by the Indian Army to identify and train promising sportspersons in 11 disciplines for various national and international competitions, said an official.
Subedar Chopra’s medal highlights the hard work and efforts of Mission Olympics Wing, he said.
“Mission Olympics Wing has given two Olympic Silver medals in shooting to the nation and is committed for many more. Subedar Chopra’s medal highlights the hard work and efforts of Mission Olympics Wing,” a brief note by the Army said.
It said Subedar Chopra was conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2018 and Vishist Seva Medal (VSM) in 2020 for his excellence in sports.
Chopra was born on December 24, 1997 in a family of farmers from a village in Panipat.
His father Satish Kumar is a farmer and his mother Saroj Devi is a housewife, said the Army official.
Neeraj started throwing javelin when he needed to reduce weight and quickly took a liking for the sport, he said.
“The rest is now history. He came into prominence with his performance at World Under-20 Championship, Poland where he set a new junior world record with a throw of 86.48 metres,” the official said.
Chopra won the gold medal in Commonwealth Games 2018 with a throw of 86.47 metres and threw his personal best of 87.43m in the Doha leg of Diamond League 2018.
He won the Asian Games with a throw of 88.06 metres that year, according to Army records.
Tokyo Games gold medallist Neeraj Chopra says the country’s athletes look up to Abhinav Bindra in their endeavour to win individual top prize at the Olympics.
He thanked Bindra, the country’s first individual gold medallist at the Olympics, for instilling the belief that Indian athletes can finish on top at sport’s biggest stage.
Chopra joined Bindra in a now exclusive two-man gold club after he ended up on top in the men’s javelin throw final with a best throw of 87.58m here on Saturday.
“It always feels great that he was the lone gold medallist in an individual sport for India. Everyone looks up to him. So I joining him today is like a dream for me. We used to think that Abhinav Bindra has achieved such a great feat.
“Standing alongside him today is a great feeling. He has opened us to that thought of winning gold at Olympics. So he has contributed immensely,” Chopra said.
A delighted Bindra congratulated Chopra for winning the first gold medal in athletics in Olympics.
“Dear @Neeraj_chopra1, thank you for your kind words but your victory is due to your hard work and determination alone. This moment belongs to you! Enjoy and savour it!!!”
Bindra, the first Indian to win an individual Olympic medal, took to social media to congratulate Chopra and welcome him to the exclusive club.
Chopra threw the javelin 87.03m in his first throw and bettered it with 87.58m to seal the contest in his favour.
Bindra bagged the top prize at the 2008 Beijing Games when he won the 10m air rifle shooting event.
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