The family of 18-year old javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who has created history by becoming the first Indian athlete to bag the title of world champion by clinching the gold medal at the U-20 World Championships in Poland on Saturday, celebrated his victory at Khandra village in Panipat district.
Neeraj’s father Satish Kumar, a small farmer, said, “Soon after we got the news around 11pm last night, villagers and relatives gathered at our house and congratulated us.”
“I am proud of my son and I wish for his successful career ahead,” said Satish, who is a matriculate.
Neeraj left home three months ago and his mother Saroj Devi said that they are waiting for the day when he will return home.
“We are just waiting for him to celebrate his victory, Saturday was like Diwali for us”, she said.
Neeraj, BA second-year student of DAV College, Chandigarh, started practice of javelin throwing at Shivaji ground at Panipat in 2012 with the help of his friend Jaiveer. He proved his mettle in the same year by winning the state-level school championship.
After that he never looked back and participated in several events. He left for training at Panchkula in 2013.
His first coach Naseem Ahmad trained him at the Devi Lal Stadium, Panchkula. In 2014, he won silver medal in Asian Championship in Bangkok. In 2014, he also scored equivalent to the national record of 82.23 in South Asian games.
However, Neeraj could not qualify for the Rio Olympics as he lost the competition by 63 cm as he scored 82.37 m, falling short of the required 83 m on July 11. But he did not lose hope and 12 days later, he created a new world record by throwing javelin at a distance of 86.48m.
Prime minister Narendra Modi and Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar congratulated him on Twitter.
Neeraj got support from his family for pursuing his career even as his father owns just two acres of agriculture land in the village. His mother Saroj Devi is a housewife.
Satish, along with his three brothers and their families, lives jointly in a house in the village and Neeraj is the youngest son among the eight children in the family. He has two sisters.
“Since Neeraj is eldest, we focused on his education and health so that other children of the family could follow him. We asked him to join a gym in nearby Madlauda town when he was in Class 8.
But the owner of the gym closed it after a few months and we had to send him to Panipat’s Shivaji stadium, where he started practice of Javelin throwing in 2012,” Neeraj’s uncle Bhim Singh told Hindustan Times.
He said that farming is the only source of income of the family. “We are happy that our son has brought laurels for the state and country.”