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Academies, equipment sellers, all point to javelin surge after Neeraj Chopra gold

Neeraj Chopra's historic gold at the Tokyo Olympics in August has triggered a javelin surge at the grassroots.

neeraj chopra, chopra, chopra javelin, chopra javelin gold, javelin india, javelin surge, javelin throw, sports newsA participant at the Delhi state meet. (Express Photo by Andrew Amsan)

Popular sports academies, like the Chhatrasal Stadium in Delhi, are clocking a rush of new enrollments. An Olympian says he is getting “at least half-a-dozen text messages every day” from beginners asking about coaches. And retailers are shipping in more equipment.

Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold at the Tokyo Olympics in August has triggered a javelin surge at the grassroots.

So much so that the Athletics Federation of India is moving to give the sport an extra push. AFI has announced that each state unit will hold an annual javelin competition every August 7, the day Chopra won India’s first-ever track and field gold at the Olympics. Talks are also on for an exchange programme with Finland, one of the traditional powerhouses of the sport.

At the Chhatrasal Stadium, famous for its wrestling akhara, coach Raman Jha says 40 new students have enrolled for javelin over the past two months. “In my 12 years as a coach, I have not seen this kind of interest. After the Olympics, a few of the younger runners asked me if they could switch to javelin. I also get a lot of calls every day from young athletes and their parents, saying they would like to enrol for javelin,” Jha says.

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neeraj chopra, chopra, chopra javelin, chopra javelin gold, javelin india, javelin surge, javelin throw, sports news Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Neeraj Chopra was inducted into the Indian Army in the elite sports quota in 2016. (File Photo)

Sunil Goswami, a former national javelin champion who trains children at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, says the “javelin craze” isn’t limited to the capital region.

“I have friends who are coaches from across the country and they tell me almost everyone wants to take up javelin after Neeraj’s gold. Children from the outskirts of the city turn up at the stadium and request me to train them. There are tennis players, runners and gymnasts who come up to me and say they want to take up javelin,” Goswami says.

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