India’s Olympics sensation Neeraj Chopra was elated after winning the country’s first athletics gold at the javelin throw final on Saturday.
“I did feel like I’d do something unique. I felt good today,” said Neeraj moments after becoming only the second Indian individual to win Olympic gold. “I topped qualification and felt very good after that. I got it in the first throw itself, and it was a relaxed one. After that, I had a good feeling. The two days I got after that, I felt good in training also. I thought I’d get my personal best (PB) today. In the second throw, I thought I got my PB, but I don’t know what happened there. No worries. I have this (gold medal) with me. That’s more important.
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“I am happy. Abhinav [Bindra] won it for India. I did it for the country too. The Olympic gold was the priority. I can break the national record later also by working hard.”
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Neeraj started with an 87.03m throw. He threw 87.58 on his second attempt and 76.79m on his third. This was after he had become the first Indian javelin thrower in history to qualify for the Olympic finals. “After the second throw, I thought I’d get my personal best. The Olympic record is 90.57m, and it did cross my mind [targetting] it. I think I tried to overdo it because of that. I think with the speed and stuff. My last throw was a little more stable, but the ones in between those were not great.”
Asked how much the gold medal weighed, Neeraj said: “Even if it weighed 10kg, it would feel light to me. I am feeling very good!”
About his social media presence, Neeraj said: “I wasn’t on social media because I wanted to stay focused on my event. I didn’t want to get distracted by online conversations. I think that it is important to give your 100% and it’s only a matter of 10-15 days. For that duration, if you stay off it [online] for a while, I don’t think it’s a big deal. The focus needs to be on the game.”
Neeraj dedicated his medal to one of India’s greatest athletes Milkha Singh, who passed away last month. “When we were in Kourtane, Milkha Singh ji passed away and I felt very bad. I did not meet him when he was alive, and I wanted to meet him with an Olympic medal. Sadly, he’s not among us but I hope he’s seeing us from above and is happy (medal) that his dream has come true. Even other athletes like PT Usha and others who missed out on a medal by centimeters – I hope they’re all happy.”