Tokyo: Neeraj Chopra became the toast of the nation after claiming India's first-ever track-and-field medal at the Olympics with President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailing the young javelin thrower's “unparalleled grit” for a landmark gold winning feat at the Tokyo Games.
The 23-year-old on Saturday became only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics, out-performing the field by quite a distance with a second round throw of 87.58m in the finals to end India's 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics.
Applauding his effort, President Kovind described it as an “unprecedented” achievement which will prove to be an inspiration for the youth of this country.
“Unprecedented win by Neeraj Chopra! Your javelin gold breaks barriers and creates history. You bring home first ever track and field medal to India in your first Olympics. Your feat will inspire our youth. India is elated! Heartiest congratulations!,” Kovind tweeted.
Congratulating Chopra, Prime Minister Modi said his performance will be remembered for ages.
“History has been scripted at Tokyo! What @Neeraj_chopra1 has achieved today will be remembered forever. The young Neeraj has done exceptionally well. He played with remarkable passion and showed unparalleled grit. Congratulations to him for winning the Gold. #Tokyo2020,” tweeted Modi.
Chopra, a farmer's son from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana, won the country's seventh medal and first gold in this Olympics.
Congratulating Chopra on his success, Sports minister said Anurag Thakur wrote: “NEERAJ CHOPRA. India's Golden Boy! India's Olympic History has been scripted! Your superbly soaring throw deserves a Billion Cheers! Your name will be etched in the history books with golden letters.”
Former sports minister Kiren Rijiju described it a “golden moment” for Indian sports.
“History has been made, Milkha Singh Ji's wish is fulfilled as India wins first ever Olympic medal in Athletics! A golden moment 4 India as Neeraj Chopra won Olympic Gold medal for India at #Tokyo2020. Congratulations @Neeraj_chopra1 on this historic achievement!,” Rijiju tweeted.
With this effort, Chopra also joined shooter Abhinav Bindra (2008 Beijing Games) as India's individual gold winners in the showpiece event.
Welcoming him to the club, Bindra wrote: “And Gold it is for @Neeraj_chopra1. Take a bow, young man ! You have fulfilled a nation's dream. Thank you! Also, welcome to the club – a much needed addition! Extremely proud. I am so delighted for you.”
His medal also ensured that the country surpassed the previous best haul of six medal achieved in the 2012 London Games.
Weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, who had opened India's account at Tokyo with a first-ever silver in the sport, tweeted: “Congratulations @Neeraj_chopra1 on winning first ever gold medal in Athletics for our country. Really a proud moment for our nation.”
Indian cricketers, led by the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, also joined in to congratulate Chopra.
“India shines brighter today because of you, Neeraj. Your javelin carried the tricolour all the way and made it flutter with the pride of every Indian. What a moment for Indian sport!,” Tendulkar tweeted.
Former India batsman Suresh Raina tweeted: “Heartiest congratulations to you @Neeraj_chopra1 for bringing the first GOLD home. Proud of your tremendous performance! #Cheer4India #JavelinThrow #Olympics #Tokyo2020.”