New Delhi: Asian Games gold medal in 2018, Commonwealth gold in the same year and now an Olympic gold medal in 2021, India's golden boy Neeraj Chopra has scripted history on Saturday in Tokyo. India's star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is now the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics, out-performing the field by some distance to immortalise himself as the first track-and-field Games medal-winner for the country. Chopra's gold medal was the country's seventh medal and first gold in this Olympics, making Tokyo Olympics 2021 India's best-ever Olympics.
With this, the country surpassed the previous best haul of six medals achieved in the 2012 London Games. Apart from Chopra's gold, India have won to silver and four bronze medals.
Speaking from the prestigious dais after winning the gold medal Neeraj Chopra said, "It feels unbelievable. It is the first time India has won gold in athletics, so I feel very good. We have just one gold here in other sports,"
The 23-year-old son of a farmer from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana produced a second-round throw of 87.58m in the finals to stun the athletics world and end India's 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics.
Chopra came into the final as a medal contender after topping the qualification round on Wednesday with a stunning first-round throw of 86.59m. Czech Republic throwers Jakub Vadlejch (86.67m) and Vitezslav Vesely (85.44m) took the silver and bronze respectively.
Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem finished fifth with a best throw of 84.62m.
Just like in the qualification round three days back, Chopra began with a bang by sending the spear to a distance of 87.03m and then improved it to 87.58m, his best of the day which none in the field could match. His third throw was a poor 76.76m, he then fouled his next two attempts before a final effort of 84.24m. By the time the Nordic javelin left his right hand in his second attempt, he knew that it was going the farthest among all and he raised both his arms in jubilation, confident that the job had been done.
After the end of the event, Chopra ran towards the Indian contingent in the stands with raised fists and wrapped himself with the tri-colour to run a short lap of honour.
Pre-tournament gold favourite Johannes Vetter of Germany, who had thrown the spear to 90m plus distances seven times between April and June, was shockingly eliminated after the first three throws as he was placed ninth with a best effort of 82.52m.
The top eight after the first three throws get three more attempts while the remaining four in the 12-man final are eliminated.
Chopra even clapped for Vetter, who is his friend off the field, when he came out for his attempt but it was just not the day for the German.
(Story is part of special coverage on Neeraj Chopra, athletics gold medal winner in Olympics 2021)