INSIDE:

NEWS/STORIES/ARTICLES
Book Reviews
Columns/Opinion/Cartoon
Films
Covid Information
International
National

NW/Local
Recipes
Special A.C.E. Stories

Sports
Online Paper (PDF)

CLASSIFIED SECTION
Bids & Public Notices

NW Job Market

NW RESOURCE GUIDE

Consulates
Organizations
Scholarships
Special Sections

Asian Reporter Info

About Us

Advertising Info.

Contact Us
Subscription Info. & Back Issues


FOLLOW US
Facebook

Twitter

 

 

ASIA LINKS
Currency Exchange

Time Zones
More Asian Links
 


Copyright © 1990 - 2023
AR Home

 


Where EAST meets the Northwest


AMAZING ARM. Neeraj Chopra of India competes in the menís javelin throw final at the World Athletics Championships on July 23, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. There was no grand plan that launched Chopra on the path to becoming an Olympic champion javelin thrower, only a simple suggestion. Pudgy and pampered ó his description ó as a kid growing up in the northern part of India, Chopraís uncle suggested one day that he head out to a nearby stadium to get some exercise. It was there that Chopra first saw the javelin. Chopra won a silver medal at the championships held in Eugene last month. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

ACCOMPLISHED ATHLETE. Silver medallist Neeraj Chopra of India poses during a medal ceremony for the menís javelin throw final at the World Athletics Championships on July 23, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. Since becoming Indiaís first Olympic gold medallist in track and field last year, Chopraís name has become one of the most searched on the internet among athletes in a country where cricket rules. August 7 in India is National Javelin Day ó the day Chopra won gold in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

From The Asian Reporter, V32, #8 (August 1, 2022), pages 1 & 14.

Love at first flight: Indian javelin thrower inspires nation

By Pat Graham

The Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. ó There was no grand plan that launched Neeraj Chopra on the path to becoming an Olympic champion javelin thrower, only a simple suggestion.

Pudgy and pampered ó his description ó as a kid growing up in the northern part of India, Chopraís uncle suggested one day that he head out to a nearby stadium to get some exercise.

It was there that Chopra first saw the javelin. Some might say it was love at first flight ó a twist of fate that has made him a gold medallist and a recognizable name in a country of a billion people. Last month at the world championships in Eugene, Oregon, Chopra added a silver medal to his list of achievements.

"I keep hearing stories about kids wanting to take up athletics and parents also being more open to allowing their children to take up sport," the 24-year-old Chopra said in an e-mail interview with The Associated Press. "That is what I believe is the true legacy of my medal, and it is something I am incredibly happy and proud about."

Since he became Indiaís first Olympic gold medallist in track and field last year, Chopra has appeared on the cover of Vogue India and his name has become one of the most searched on the internet among athletes in a country where cricket rules. August 7 in India is National Javelin Day ó the day he took the gold in Tokyo.

It wasnít all by accident.

Growing up, he always loved to throw. Heíd get the familyís cattle out of the water by throwing stones close to them, no matter how far away he was. He loved throwing sticks as far as he could while walking around his familyís wheat and rice farm.

It helped turn his right arm into a potent machine. His very first javelin throw was a modest 30 or so meters (98 feet, 5 inches). Two weeks, and a few tips later, he was already up to 45 meters (147 feet, 7 inches).

"I remember it felt very good to be able to throw so far," he said.

He was only getting started. His winning throw in Tokyo was 87.58 meters (287 feet, 4 inches). These days, heís recognized everywhere he goes in India ó streets, malls, airports, and restaurants. Everyone wants to take a picture with Chopra or get his autograph.

"Itís different from earlier when I could be more carefree about roaming around in public, but I like to think of it as me being privileged to receive so much adulation," Chopra said. "Iím mostly grateful for the support."

Thereís pressure, too, as one of the most familiar faces in a country that reveres cricket, soccer, badminton, field hockey, and, now, the javelin.

"I try to go into every competition with the same aim, which is to do my best and try to achieve my best throw," Chopra said. "As long as Iíve been training well and feeling good about my body, I am confident about my chances and thatís the mindset I usually use going into any competition, be it the Olympics or world championships. Itís worked for me in the past, so hopefully, it continues to work for me."

In May, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) debuted a kidsí javelin to encourage an even safer way to take part in the sport. The launch was announced by none other than Chopra in a video message.

"We cannot let go of the spike in interest for athletics among youngsters in India," AFI president Adille J. Sumariwalla said in a release.

Chopra also is in the Indian Army, holding the rank of subedar, which is one higher than junior commissioned officer, he explained. Heís been given no specific military requirements other than to keep doing what he does best ó throw.

In that regard, Chopra is still searching for that "perfect" throw, where everything comes together. He had a setback in May 2019 when he underwent elbow surgery to remove bone fragments that had dislodged. That led him to miss the world championships in Doha that season, which made him more eager for the version of worlds held in Oregon last month.

Chopra has returned to the shape he was in before elbow surgery. In late June, he threw 89.94 (295 feet, 1 inch) ó the longest throw of his career. For perspective, the world record is 98.48 (323 feet, 1 inch) set by Jan Zelezny in 1996.

"Despite the many competitions Iíve competed in and throws Iíve thrown, thereís always this feeling that something could have been better," Chopra said. "Having said that, I think that feeling is also important to keep the hunger and drive to do better alive."

It also helps knowing there are kids in India getting involved because of him.

"I am known as Neeraj Chopra," he said, "because of javelin."

Read the current issue of The Asian Reporter in its entirety!
Go to <www.asianreporter.com/completepaper.htm>!