Neeraj Chopra's Olympic triumph is an opportunity to broaden footprints of Indian athletics: Sebastian Coe

At Tokyo 2020, Chopra’s mammoth throw of 87.58m won India its first first track and field medal at the Olympics.

Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra; Credit: Twitter/@Neeraj_chopra1
PUBLISHED: Dec 17, 20212 MINUTE READ

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said Neeraj Chopra’s historic Javelin throw gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics this year is an opportunity for Indian athletics to grow. Not just tapping on its popularity boost but also hosting big ticket events. At Tokyo 2020, Chopra’s mammoth throw of 87.58m won India its first first track and field medal at the Olympics. Meanwhile Coe also lauded the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for providing the ray of hope amidst the gloom of the global pandemic. It’s year-long delay had an effect on the global tournaments across sport.

Neeraj went to Tokyo as a strong medal prospect as he was consistently throwing the javelin close to the 90 meter-mark and he didn’t disappoint at the games, winning only India’s second individual gold ever. Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch won the silver while his compatriot Vitezslav Vesely secured the bronze.

“For Chopra to have done what he did on the biggest of global stages is a fabulous platform, not just for India but broadly for Asia and across the world,” Coe said during a recent media interaction.

“I know too well that there are Indian communities in all our big urban populations around the world. So that (Chopra’s effort) went far and wide,” explained Coe, a double Olympic gold medallist in the 1500m in 1980 and 1984.

“It can actually help engage the Indian communities in the US, Great Britain and large parts of Europe and Africa in wanting to be part of our sport too,” Coe reasoned.

“It is an important moment because for the first time in many years, people in India were talking about track and field,” said Coe

“Chopra is a very strong element in India’s athletics profile. A one-off performance from an athlete, however important it is, is not that powerful if you don’t have a strong federation behind it. And you have that now,” Coe said.

The first gold medal is hugely important for the nation: Coe

India had never won an Olympic medal in athletics. Milkha Singh and PT Usha came close, finishing fourth in their respective events. Milkha finished 0.1 seconds off a medal in the 400m event at the 1960 Rome Olympics while PT Usha got even closer, losing a medal by just 0.01 seconds in the 400m hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Meanwhile, before Neeraj’ heroics, Anju Bobby George was the only Indian to have won an athletics medal at a global event. The long jumper from Kerala won a bronze medal at the IAAF World Championship in Paris.

“The first gold medal in Indian athletics is a hugely important moment. And it’s an important moment because for the first time in many years, people in India were talking about track and field,” Coe pointed out.

 According to Twitter, Neeraj Chopra was the second-most tweeted Olympic athlete of 2021 in India after PV Sindhu.

“It is the opportunity to use that performance to broaden the footprints for athletics,” Coe added.



WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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