Neeraj Chopra- A talent to savour
Long haired, charismatic and virile, Neeraj Chopra catches attention on first sight. Born in the lesser known Kandra Village near Panipat, the son of a farmer is the new toast of the nation. His looks might suggest at the sight of a spoilt young man; the story behind one is of blood and tears. From a town without any sporting facilities to stand on the podium at the Commonwealth and Asian games is certainly a journey to savour.
What has Neeraj Chopra done?
Only 20 year's old, Neeraj Chopra is the gold standard of Indian athletics at the moment. On Monday, he created history by securing India's first ever Javelin Throw Gold Medal in Asian Games history. The boy from Haryana overcame his rivals in a comprehensive fashion. His winning throw of 88.06m was 5.84m longer than the one by his nearest competitor. Such was Chopra's dominance that all of his other four throws on the night would be good enough to win the gold. Not only its shows how much better he was than his competition but also is proof of his big stage temperament.
The Hype is Real
Neeraj Chopra's throw in Jakarta was a historic one for India as it set the new national record. The previous two were also held by the 20-year-old too. His throw in Indonesia was only 1.09 meters short of all times games record.
Despite being only 20-year-old, Chopra is no new kid on the scene. The Asian games triumph is only one of the latest in a line of big achievements by the Haryanvi. It was only four months ago in Gold Coast when he became the first Indian to win a Javelin Gold at the Commonwealth Games. His medal was only India's fifth ever Athletics gold in the event.
However, it was in 2016 that the world first took notice of Chopra. At the World U20 Athletics Championship in Poland, he won the gold medal with a throw of 86.48m and in the process set the World Junior record. Since then, there has been no looking back for the young prodigy as he has taken one leap after another in his career.
The Olympic Dream
If there is one dream every sports enthusiast in India share, it is of an Olympic medal in Athletics. The pain of Milkha Singh and PT Usha's agonizing heartbreaks have stayed with India for all these years. Only a medal at an Olympic's game will cure the ache for any Indian. A few years back the nation dared to dream with Long Jumper Anju Boby George. She won medals at every stage possible. A Bronze in the 2003 World Championship aspired hope in every Indian that an Olympic Medal was possible. However, despite achieving a personal and national record in Athens, she had to settle for fifth place. In the following Olympics, the Keralite failed to even make the final round.
Since Anju Bobby Gorge, Neeraj Chopra is India's best hope in Athletics. While there have been a few bringing glories in the Commonwealth and Asian Games, the heights Neeraj has hit cannot be ignored. His record-breaking throw in Indonesia would have been good enough to win the Gold Medal in the London Olympics, Silver in Beijing and a Bronze at Rio. Without a doubt, right in front of our eyes is a golden talent,
Time to support him
Looking at the rapid strides Neeraj Chopra is taking, it is not hard to view him as a potential Olympic medal winner. His performances are evidently hitting the mark that an Olympic winner needs to secure. However, one must not believe, as a result of these score's in these games, he is ready to win an Olympic Medal. In the world, there are at least three player's who have crossed the 90m mark. One must not forget the pressure of producing that kind of effort on the biggest stage. Having said that, Neeraj Chopra is still only 20 year's old and is only going to improve.
The important thing is for the Indian sporting fraternity to learn from its past mistakes. The list of the bright prospect's the country has not made the optimal use of is endless. Talents like these do not come every day for India in Athletics. The sporting organizations and administrators in the country need to realize it.
The need of the hour is for a specific plan being around the Asian Games Gold Medalist. With two year's left for the next Olympic games, it is high time for India to identify individual athletes who are good enough to strike gold. One of them will naturally be Neeraj Chopra. The government and Athletics Federation must ensure the youngster from Kandra is given adequate funding and the best of facilities, training, and coaching. Every effort must be taken to ensure that when Chopra travels to Tokyo in 2020, he is in optimal condition to produce the performance of his life. In a boy from a small town in Haryana lies a now or never moment for Indian Sport.