Tokyo Olympics: Khandra village erupts in joy after Neeraj gold

  • India’s only Olympic gold from Tokyo - and its only medal from athletics in the Games ever - had come moments ago and the village was celebrating an 87.58m effort of its most famous son.
Neeraj Chopra of India has entered the history books. (Getty Images)
Neeraj Chopra of India has entered the history books. (Getty Images)
Published on Aug 07, 2021 11:47 PM IST
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ByNeeraj Mohan, Karnal

Satish Chopra was struggling to find the right words. He and Bhim Chopra also took a trip down memory lane to when Neeraj Chopra had started the journey that would fetch an Olympic javelin gold in Tokyo on Saturday. All this while, the village of Khandra in Haryana’s Panipat district was dancing and distributing sweets to the 19-members of the Chopra family whose phones never stopped ringing.

India’s only Olympic gold from Tokyo - and its only medal from athletics in the Games ever - had come moments ago and the village was celebrating an 87.58m effort of its most famous son.

“I am not getting words to explain this happiness, it’s the fruit of his hard work and dedication”, said Satish reacting to his son’s feat after he was presented with a turban by the villagers. “I remember the day when he started practice in Panipat’s Shivaji stadium and travelled 20km everyday as there was no practice ground in our village.” The year was 2011, said Bhim, Neeraj’s uncle. It was Neeraj’s friend Jaiveer who helped him focus on javelin convinced that his winning several local competitions was the start of something special, said Bhim.

Also Read | Tokyo 2020: Neeraj Chopra scripts history cast in gold

“In 2016, he was very disappointed when he could not make it to the Rio Olympics. But we did not lose hope and worked hard and the family supported him a lot”, he said.

Neeraj had set a junior world record of 86.48 in the 2016 IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Poland but it was after the cut-off date to qualify for the Olympics.

Neeraj’s mother Saroj said: “Not only me but the entire country is happy over the performance of my son. I am proud of my son.”

The Chopras are farmers. Satish and his two brothers and their families stay together. Everyone was glued to the television on Saturday afternoon when Neeraj’s event began. And after he won gold, celebrations began with the whole village joining in. And it didn’t take long to spread to Sonipat, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Bhiwani and the rest of the state.

Also Read | 'Realised my unfinished dream after 37 yrs': PT Usha on Neeraj Chopra's gold

Neeraj won a gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games with a throw of 82.23 m and again in the Asian Athletic championships 2017 with a throw of 85.23m. In the 2018 Commonwealth Games, he won a gold medal with his best effort of 86.47m. Again in 2018, he broke the national record at the Doha Diamond League with a throw of 87.43 meters. He also won the Asian Games gold that year.

So Khandra is used to Neeraj bringing home medals. But this felt different.

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Thursday, December 02, 2021