Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra rose to No. 2 sport in the latest rankings issued by World Athletics on Wednesday (August 11). Neeraj, who won gold in men’s javelin throw, was ranked second with a score of 1315, only behind Germany’s Johannes Vetter who leads the rankings with a score of 1396 but failed to make it to the top 8 position in the final at Tokyo Olympics. Poland’s Marcin Krukowski (three), Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch (four) – who won silver medal at Tokyo – and Germany’s Julian Weber (five) complete the top five in the rankings.
Neeraj Chopra became India’s first Olympic gold medallist in track-and-field events with a best attempt of 87.58m in the men’s javelin throw final. Neeraj’s attempt also contributed to India finishing with their best-ever medals tally of seven at the Olympics.
Neeraj Chopra was accorded a grand welcome upon his return to India and was felicitated along with some of India’s other medallists at the Tokyo Olympics by Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and former Sports Minister Kiren Rijiu among others in a glittering ceremony in New Delhi.
While javelin throw might not be a popular track and field sport in the country, Neeraj Chopra’s gold medal-winning feat at the Tokyo Olympics and the Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) decision to celebrate August 7 each year as ‘National Javelin Throw Day’ has received a big thumbs up from sports enthusiasts across the country.
Fans on social media termed AFI decision ‘ground breaking’, while others said ‘this will help our young generation to achieve more’.
“Brilliant? Hope they (AFI) make it a big event every year with Javelin competition across the country. Will be truly ground breaking,” tweeted a fan, while another wrote, “Good move everyone must support? this will help our young he generation to achieve more.”
On Monday, during a felicitation ceremony for Chopra, AFI had announced that August 7 each year would be celebrated as the ‘National Javelin Throw Day’ with competitions in all states and union territories to commemorate the athlete`s feat of winning the country`s first athletics gold medal at the Olympic Games with a throw of 87.58m.
“We will celebrate August 7 as National Javelin Day from next year to mark Neeraj’s victory. All our affiliated units will hold Javelin competitions in the respective States (and Union Territories). And a year later, we will get all our 600-plus district units also to have similar competitions on August7,” AFI Planning Committee chairman Lalit Bhanot had said at the function on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Chopra had said he was humbled by the announcement. “I am feeling good that the AFI is making my achievement to be remembered in the years to come. I will be happier if my gold medal win inspires youngsters to take to athletics, especially javelin throw,” he said.
(with agency inputs)