Neeraj Chopra is a global sports star now. He won the gold medal in men's javelin throw event at Tokyo Olympics. He followed it up with gold medal victories at World Championships and Asian Games.
While Chopra is a global name now, he was born in the Khandra village of Haryana. English language is not his strong point, and he always prefers speaking in Hindi language even at big events.
Speaking at RCB Innovation Lab's Leaders Meet India, Neeraj Chopra described the importance of speaking in the language in which he is confident. He said:
"I think it is very important. I can tell from my personal journey. When I left my village and came to Panipat, I felt like I was in New York city. So when I used to go outside for training, now I feel that I was not that confident at that time. We can do much better if we are confident and fearless. A lot of people feel that they do not have the confidence when they are talking in another language."
Neeraj Chopra mentioned that people are free to learn every language they want to. But they must prefer communicating in the language in which they are comfortable.
"Of course, you are free to learn other languages, but you should speak in the language in which you are the most confident. It is very important," Chopra added.
Reflecting on the challenges that he faced in his journey from living in a village to becoming a global sports star, Neeraj Chopra continued:
"I never thought I'd be sitting here one day, it has been a random journey. When I went to stadiums, I watched javelin throw, I used to think even I want to do this. I got passionate about javelin throw from day one."
"I faced a lot of challenges. One of them was traveling to the stadium for training. I had to change buses to make it there, and then I had to train. So, the journey was not easy. That's why I think if schools and colleges start supporting sports more, then we can do really well, we have a lot of talent," he added.
Neeraj Chopra recalled how he would wait for buses to travel to the stadium every day for practice. He advised young athletes to start wherever they are instead of waiting for the perfect facilities.
The Tokyo Olympics gold medalist further stated that if an individual gets off to a start, he should aim at giving his 100 percent every day rather than complaining about lack of facilities.
"I used to wait for buses. Sometimes, it was on time. Sometimes, it would be one hour late. On some days, I would just reach the bus stand, and the bus would leave. So I had to sit for two hours. Maybe now, I would not be able to do that, but at that time, I did not think so much, and in my 'desi' way, I managed to do everything," he said.
"I always tell young boys and girls who wish to make a future in sports that do not wait for the day to have perfect facilities. Start where you are, with whatever facilities you have. Try to give your 100% and work hard with passion," Neeraj Chopra continued.
"I threw the javelin so far there that even I had not imagined"- Neeraj Chopra names the 2 biggest Moments of his career
During the same conversation, Neeraj Chopra was asked to name the biggest moment of his iconic career. Chopra picked his Junior World Championship 2016 win as the first moment and then named Tokyo Olympics gold medal victory as his second moment.
Explaining why the World Junior Championships win matters to him so much, Neeraj Chopra said:
"The biggest moment for me, at the global level, would have to be World Junior Championships. I had been preparing for Rio Olympics, but I could not qualify. Just 10-12 days later, the World Junior Championships took place in Poland. I threw the javelin so far there that even I had not imagined."
"It was a world junior record and also I could have won medal at Olympics, but it didn't happen that year. At that time, I felt yes, I can do this. I can compete with world-class athletes," he added.
Chopra signed off by talking about his Tokyo Olympics gold medal win.
"Second one, you all would know. I have to tell it again and again, but Tokyo Olympics. It has been the biggest moment for me. It is the dream of every athlete to win gold medal at Olympics and the national anthem plays when you are on the podium," Neeraj Chopra concluded.
Neeraj Chopra has inspired many youngsters to take up track and field sports in India. It will be interesting to see if India can win more gold medals in track and field events at the Olympics in the coming years.