Neeraj Chopra, the newly crowned Olympic champion, revealed on Monday (August 9) that he was in pain after his historic performance in Tokyo, but it was worth it given the historic result he achieved. At a ceremony organised by sports minister Anurag Thakur to honour the seven medal-winning performances at the Games after their arrival to a chaotic reception this evening, the javelin thrower said he knew he had done something special with the second attempt of 87.58m in the finals that landed him the gold
“I knew I’d done something special; in fact, I thought I’d surpassed my personal best. “The throw went really well,” Chopra said, referring to his 88.07m throw earlier this year. “The next day, my body felt special with all the pain, but it was worth it,” he joked. “This medal is for the entire country,” said the 23-year-old Army man, adding that the only message he has for the country’s athletes right now is to never be afraid. “I just want to say that no matter who your opponent is, give your all. That is all you have to do, and that is what this gold medal represents. “Never be afraid of the opposition,” he said.
Chopra became not only India’s first Olympic gold medalist in 13 years, but also the country’s first track and field athlete to do so. Before the Games, he had his famously long mane cut, and when asked about it in a lighter vein, the youngster said, “I like long hair but I was getting irritated by the heat, long hair causes a lot of sweating.” So I had my hair cut.
“I’ve had long hair since I was 9-10 years old, but it’s been bothering me lately. It was making me sweat and dripping into my eyes during a couple of competitions. I also tried using a hair band, but it kept falling off,” Chopra explained.
“So I thought, it’s the Olympics, style baad mei ho jaayega, game pehle (style can come later, game comes first),” the javelin champion explained.
While Chopra provided the campaign with a golden sheen, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu and wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya brought home silver medals. Boxer Lovlina Borgohain, shuttler PV Sindhu, the men’s hockey team, and wrestler Bajrang Punia all won bronze medals.