Neeraj Chopra is an Indian track and field athlete to competes in the men's javelin throw event. He is the reigning junior world champion and world record holder in the event and at just 19 years of age, he is regarded as the next big hope of Indian athletics.
He was born on 24th December, 1997 in Khandra village in the Panipat district of Haryana. He started out by playing cricket and volleyball, with the latter being his favourite sport at a point of time. However, in 2011, he started training in the javelin throw at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Panipat at the advice of his uncle.
HIs first major break in the sport at the junior level came at the Junior Nationals in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh in 2012, where he won the gold medal at the U16 level with an effort of 68.46m, which also broke the existing national record.
In 2014, the U18 national record was breached as well, as Chopra registered a throw of 76.5m. Next year in December, he was to break the U20 national record as well, with an 81.04m effort. He achieved this feat at the all-India Inter-University Championships and his effort was the best in the calendar year at the junior level as well.
His first ever senior medal was to follow soon in 2016 at the South Asian Games in Guwahati, where he clinched gold with a memorable performance. His effort of 82.23m, which came in the first round, was sufficient to take the first spot and also break the meet and Asian U20 record. Additionally, his throw was the same as the national record at the time too.
In July 2016, his moment of glory came and he announced himself on the big stage. At the IAAF World U20 Championships, he won the gold medal to become the nation's first world champion at any level in track & field. His effort of 86.48m broke the junior world record and the senior national record as well, thrusting him into the limelight.
Chopra continued to build on his impressive performances and in July 2017, he became the continental champion as well as he clinched the gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championships in Guwahati, with compatriot Davinder Singh Kang finishing in third place. He trailed throughout the event but in his final effort, he threw the javelin a whopping 85.23m to take home the gold and add to his ever-increasing tally of medals and trophies.
The Indian added another feather to his cap in 2017 after he was invited to participate in the Diamond League event, which is an elite-level tournament that features the best in the world contest. He thus became only the second Indian after discus-thrower Vikas Gowda to take part in such an event.
He made his Diamond League debut in the Paris leg, where he impressed with his performance and finished a strong fifth after recording a throw of 84.67m. He also then participated in the next leg in Monaco, where he finished in seventh place.
He was announced in India's squad for the IAAF World Championships and is the nation's brightest prospect going into the mega-event. If he can win a medal in London, he will become the second Indian athlete do so, emulating long jumper Anju Bobby George in the process.