Olympics ki Aasha: How Neeraj Chopra overcame obesity to become a javelin throw star

Neeraj Chopra with his gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games
Neeraj Chopra with his gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Neeraj Chopra is one of the many Indian star athletes set to participate in Tokyo next month. Prior to his rise to the top, the sport of javelin throw was not popular in India. Expectedly, the country had never won any major honors on the international circuit either. The 23-year-old changed all that by putting India on the map as a threat in the sport of javelin throw.

With Tokyo Olympics 2020 just a month away, Neeraj Chopra's preparations for the quadrennial extravaganza seem to be in full swing. Just two weeks ago, he won the gold medal on his international return at the Meeting Cidade de Lisboa in Lisbon and followed it up with another gold medal at the Karslad Grand Prix in Sweden.

Neeraj Chopra has been training and participating in events across Europe for almost a month now. The much-needed international competition ahead of the Tokyo Olympics 2020 will help him prepare better for the Summer Games. Neeraj Chopra is one of India's most prominent medal contenders at the quadrennial event in Japan.

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics: Can Neeraj Chopra make history?

Neeraj Chopra's fascinating story of a small town boy achieving international glory

Neeraj Chopra comes from a humble family of farmers residing in the Khandra village of the Panipat district in Haryana. His father, Satish Kumar, is a farmer, and his mother, Saroj Devi, is a housewife. Neeraj Chopra was obese when he was young. In order to lose weight, his father decided to put him in a gym at the Panipat Stadium.

It was there that Neeraj first came across the sport of javelin. Even though he knew little about the intricacies of the sport, a connection was made. Eventually, he fell in love with javelin throw and decided to pursue it passionately. Neeraj Chopra was taken under the wing by Jitendra Jaglan, who had identified his talent as a youngster.

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In 2016, the javelin throw star joined the Indian Army and that move provided him with proper training equipment and facilities to develop his game. Before heading to Guhawati for the 2016 South Asian Games, Neeraj broke his right wrist while playing basketball with his friends. However, he recuperated on time and won the gold medal for India.

Neeraj Chopra first broke into the limelight when he set a world U20 record in javelin throw while winning the gold medal at the 2016 World U20 Athletics Championships. The following year, he clinched the gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.

Also Read: Tokyo Olympics: Indian athletics should make it count this time

At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian javelin thrower to clinch the gold medal. That year, he won the gold medal and shattered his own national record with a throw of 88.06m at the Jakarta Asian Games. In 2019, his career hit a roadblock after he underwent surgery on his shoulder and had to withdraw from the game for a long time.

In January 2020, Neeraj Chopra booked his debut Olympic berth for the Tokyo Olympics after achieving a qualification mark of 85.00m (he threw 87.86m) at the Athletics Central North East in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Now, he is the hope of millions of Indians to win a medal at the quadrennial event in Japan.

Also Read: India's 5 potential flag-bearers at the Tokyo Olympics

Watch the video here:

Courtesy: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports

Also Read: Can Neeraj Chopra win an elusive Athletics medal for India at the Tokyo Olympics?

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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