Star Javeline Thrower Neeraj Chopra has kept India’s hopes of winning an Olympic medal alive by earning a direct qualification into the finals with a stunning throw of 86.65m on 4 August. With this, Chopra became the first Indian javelin thrower in history to qualify for the final at the Olympics. Competing in his first Olympics, the 23-year-old took just a few seconds to make it to the final round as he sent the spear well past the qualifying mark of 83.50m in his first attempt.
Chopra was one of only two throwers in Group A to breach the automatic qualification mark with their first throw. This has put him on the top of the Group A contest. This was Chopra’s seventh best throw and third best of the season 2021.
At the age of 19, Chopra rose to prominence when he scripted the national record with a throw of 82.23m in the 2016 South Asian Games wherein he clinched gold for the country. In the same year, he broke the junior world record with a throw of 86.48m at the IAAF World U20 Championships. He clinched gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games with a season’s best effort of 86.47m in the final round.
A farmer’s son from a village near Panipat in Haryana, shattered his own national record by clearing a distance of 88.06m in his third attempt to seal the gold in 2018 Asian Games. But it was in March when the reigning Commonwealth and Asian Games champion began his season with a new national record of 88.07 metres at the Indian Grand Prix.
During the initial years of his sporting career Chopra joined the Indian Army as a Junior Commissioned Officer to support his father financially. He said that it was his dream to join the Indian Army. The young prodigy who suffered a major injury to his right elbow in 2019, has said that the Indian Army helped him extremely on his journey till now. Chopra will next be in action in the final on August 7 at the Olympic Stadium.