Not many can boast of being India's flag bearer at the age of 20 at any major multi-discipline world event or Games & not for nothing, ahead of many Indian sporting superstars, Neeraj Chopra held that Indian flag high during Indian contingent's march past at Asian Games opening ceremony on Aug 18.
Neeraj's unbelievable throw of 88.06 metres in men's Javelin was not only enough to fetch him an Asian Games gold medal, but his dominance was evident from the fact that the silver medalist from China Liu Qizhen threw a good 6 metres less than the Champion.
With 88.06, Neeraj would have won Rio Olympics bronze, and would have been the first Indian to win a medal in athletics. The brilliance of Neeraj's achievement is amply clear from the fact that India has won many medals in this edition of the Games but none of the 41 medals won so far other than this one came anywhere near a world level mark or performance. They were all good enough for Asian Games standard but none touched the Olympic level. Neeraj changed it all.
Yes, undoubtedly this has been one of India's best ever performance in any discipline in Olympic Sports. He also becomes the first Indian in track & field since Milkha Singh to win CWG & Asian Games gold medals in the same year.
The 5'11" Haryana athlete, who took up the sport at the age of 13, always aimed for World level medals. He never aimed for an Asian level or CWG level medal. In many of interviews, he has always said: "My aim is Olympic and World Championship gold. Rest will come in the process."
Such is his confidence and belief.
Immediately after this performance, Neeraj was heard saying "Yes I am happy to throw my personal best. But I am leaving tomorrow to Czech Republic for the Diamond League final."
Neeraj became the first Indian athlete to win a world title in athletics, at either senior or junior level, when he claimed gold in javelin at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
His score of 86.48 at the Junior World Athletics Championship in 2016 spelled shock wave across the globee and announced his arrival. He would have easily qualified for Rio Olympics and would have given champions a run for their money but due to some technical reasons he had to miss it. But that miss gives him more power & reason to give his best shot at coming 2020 Olympics Games to be held in Tokyo.
Four months back, the champion thrower had won CWG gold with 86.47 metres and bettered this mark in Doha in a Diamond League championship with an astounding 87.43 metres. He chose to better his personal best at a bigger event... Asian Games this day with his personal best of 88.06 metres.
Now the question is not whether Neeraj be able to break the 90 metre barrier but the question is how soon it's coming. Republic TV salutes Neeraj Chopra... the new poster boy of Indian Olympic Sports.