India’s Olympic gold medalist and World Champion javelin thrower, Neeraj Chopra, celebrated his 26th birthday by cutting cake on Sunday. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) took to X (formerly Twitter) to share a picture of Neeraj celebrating his birthday with a cake. The governing body of athletics in India also extended their wishes to Neeraj. “Happy birthday champion Neeraj Chopra,” tweeted AFI.
— Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) December 24, 2023
Over the last five years or so, this young boy from Haryana, blessed with a strong arm and hunger to succeed, has touched the biggest peaks in athletics. About to enter his late 20s, he is already possibly the greatest Indian athlete ever.
Following a World Junior Championship gold and Asian Championship silver in 2016, Neeraj graduated to the senior level and celebrated it in style with a gold medal in the Asian Championships in 2017.
The athlete had a great 2018 as well, making an impact at the continental and Commonwealth levels. He won gold in the javelin throw at the Asian Games in Jakarta. With a throw of 88.06 m, he made a mark at continental level, giving signs of a fine future. He also secured a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games 2018 with a throw of 86.47 m.
But the year 2021 was when everything changed for Neeraj and suddenly, he had become India’s ‘golden boy’. He captured an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo with the best throw of 87.58 m. With this, he became the first-ever Indian to win an athletics gold. This victory made him a sensation in the country. Love and support from fans, cricketers, politicians, and Bollywood celebrities made his victory even grander. Suddenly, Neeraj was the talking point all over India, being featured on social media campaigns, advertisements, shows etc. People wondered what he would do next.
In the next few months, Neeraj showed that though he had attained the top prize in athletics, there was still plenty for him to prove and win.
2022 was an amazing year for Neeraj, though he missed out on the Commonwealth Games 2022 due to an injury.
In June, he set a new national record and finished with a silver medal with a throw of 89.30 metres at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Finland, bettering his own previous national record of 88.07 metres, which he had set in Patiala in March last year.
In June again, he gave another sterling performance as he clinched gold in the 2022 Kuortane Games in Finland. Neeraj threw 86.69 m to clinch the top prize in tricky and wet conditions.
He also held the male javelin national record thanks to a throw in the Stockholm Diamond League that measured 89.94 metres, with which he broke his own record. He clinched a silver medal at the prestigious Diamond League meet in Stockholm and broke his own previous record.
At the World Athletics Championships in July, Neeraj Chopra made history by becoming only the second Indian and the first male track and field athlete to take home a medal. He finished second and won the silver medal, realising his aim of winning a world medal with a throw of 88.13 metres. Anju Bobby George won a bronze medal for India in the long jump competition before Neeraj.
In September, Chopra made history by becoming the first-ever Indian to win the prestigious Diamond League trophy, a top-tier athletics competition, achieving the best throw of 88.44 m to clinch one of the biggest wins of his career.
More accomplishments awaited Neeraj next year.
Neeraj clinched India’s first-ever gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest back in August. Neeraj recorded his best throw of 88.17 m in his second attempt and managed to keep his lead intact till the very end to win gold at Budapest.
Neeraj lived up to expectations to win gold at the Asian Games, and his compatriot Kishore Kumar Jena took home a silver medal as Indian athletes put up a power-packed performance at the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium on October 4. Neeraj defended his title and scripted history at the continental event. The event was watched eagerly on TV screens across the country as the two Indians stole the limelight.
There was a neck-to-neck competition between two Indian athletes, and Neeraj prevailed with his season’s best throw of 88.88 metres.
With a gold medal in the Asian Games, Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and World Athletics Championships and a Diamond League title, Chopra has won every top prize in the sport. He has set an unprecedented example with his consistency and hunger for gold.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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