Neeraj Chopra not only won a gold medal in Javelin throw at Asian Games but also won hearts with his friendly sporting gesture towards Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem, who settled for bronze in the same event on Monday.
Neeraj shattered his own national record by clearing a distance of 88.06m on Monday to give India only their second medal in javelin throw at Asian Games. But it was during the medal ceremony that Neeraj’s warm gesture towards his Pakistani opponent that caught the eye of tennis star Sania Mirza, who praised the athlete for his ‘sportsmanship, equality and respect’.
Sania Mirza tweeted, “Why I always say SPORT is the best ‘education’ you can provide your child with! Teaches you sportsmanship,equality, respect and most importantly humanity! If only some people can learn this from our champion athletes too!! Well done to @Neeraj_chopra1 on the gold for India”
Nadeem, who settled for a bronze with a personal best of 80.75m, wants to emulate the Indian star. “Neeraj is an amazing talent. I have competed with him about eight times now including the SAFF Championships in India and Asian Junior Championships. But he has a foreign coach and I don’t. His achievements inspire me and my goal is to emulate him one day, may be beat him too,” Nadeem said in an interview to PTI.
“Neeraj bhai jawaab hee nahi dete (he hardly responds to my whatsapp messages). He has done that only a couple of times and after that he stopped. I don’t know the reason for that. May be he is busy. I just meet him during tournaments. He has got a great technique and I am sure he has got full support from the government. I have never trained overseas and that makes a huge difference,” he said.
Speaking on his love for India, Nadeem said, “It was a memorable trip. We came to Amritsar from Lahore by road. Aap log badi khatir or izzat karte ho (you people are great hosts). I would love to compete in India again.”