Neeraj Chopra proves class with historic silver for India

Neeraj Chopra
Neeraj Chopra in action in the final. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Neeraj Chopra, the poster boy of Indian athletics, has become the first man from the country to win a medal at the World Championships.

Chopra, who last year brought home India's first Olympic medal in track and field and that too a gold, won the silver with a throw of 88.13m at Eugene, Oregon.

He is only the second Indian after long jump legend Anju Bobby George to finish on the podium at Worlds. Anju had won a bronze in the 2003 edition in Paris.

Hailed as a once-in-a-generation talent by his former coach Garry Calvert, Chopra, who is also the reigning Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medallist, was expected to pick up a medal at Oregon 2022, and he delivered.

Although he could not breach the 90m mark, Chopra did remarkably well to clinch a silver after starting poorly in the final which featured a strong field as Anderson Peters of Grenada retained his title with a throw of 90.54m.

Neeraj Chopra, Anderson Peters and Jakub Vadlejch
From left: Silver medallist Neeraj Chopra, gold medallist Anderson Peters and bronze medallist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic celebrate. Photo: AFP/Ben Stansall

Chopra was in fine form coming into the championships. The Army man had broken his own national record with an effort of 89.94m en route to winning a silver medal at the Diamond League meet in Stockholm last month. He had booked his spot in the finals with a throw of 88.39m in his very first attempt in the qualifiers.

Chopra has been one of those rare Indian athletes who gets going at the crunch. He did just that on Saturday night, producing the medal-winning throw in his fourth try.

A medal in athletics on the global stage seemed beyond the Indians till a few years ago. The greatness of Chopra is that he has proved that a medal is very much a reality when he's in the fray. Chopra's consistency in big events has been amazing and it's something which no other Indian athlete can claim.

At 24, Chopra has won almost everything. He will get another shot at glory in the World Championships in Budapest next year.

Chopra, a farmer's son from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana, will be keen to break the 90m barrier and the way his career is progressing it's just a matter of time before he enters the elite club.

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