It’s a historic year for Indian athletes – Neeraj Chopra just became the first Indian to clinch the gold medal in the men’s javelin throw event at the World Athletics Championships held in Budapest, Hungary.
Neeraj’s exceptional accomplishment unfolded during the early hours of August 28 as he competed against athletes from around the world. He demonstrated outstanding skill by registering an impressive throw of 88.17 meters during his second attempt, establishing his dominance throughout the competition.
Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem, another formidable contender, closely trailed Neeraj’s achievement with a silver medal in hand. Nadeem, who has previously shone on the Commonwealth Games stage, managed a commendable throw of 87.82 meters.
Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic secured the third spot on the podium and showcased his prowess with a best throw of 86.67 meters.
In another first, three Indians finished in the top eight with Kishore Jena (84.77m) and DP Manu (84.14m) taking the fifth and sixth spots respectively.
The quartet of Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi and Rajesh Ramesh finished 5th in the men’s 4x400m relay race. Meanwhile, Parul Chaudhary finished 12th in the women’s 3000-metre steeplechase final with a national record of 9 minutes and 15.32 seconds, attaining her qualification for the Paris Olympics 2024.
Neeraj Chopra has now become only the second Indian — after legendary shooter Abhinav Bindra — to hold the Olympics and World Championships title simultaneously. Bindra won the World Championships title when he was 23, and the Olympics gold at 25. Chopra, who had become the first Indian Olympic track and field gold medallist in the Tokyo Games in 2021, had won a silver in the 2022 edition of the World Championships.
With his feat on Sunday, Chopra has won every title his sport has to offer. He has won gold in the Asian Games (2018) and Commonwealth Games (2018), besides four individual Diamond League Meeting titles (two each in 2022 and 2023) and the Diamond League champion’s trophy last year. He also became junior world champion in 2016 and won the Asian Championships title in 2017.
Indian athletes have been on a roll this year – with many firsts leading up to the Paris Olympics. Indian compound archers also scripted history earlier this month by clinching three gold medals at the World Archery Championships. By the end of the final tournament, India put up a spirited show and ranked number 1 on the medal table by winning four medals (3 gold and 1 bronze). Meanwhile, the United World Wrestling (UWW), the international governing body of the sport has indefinitely suspended the membership of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) – meaning that Indian wrestlers won’t get to represent the country and will compete as ‘neutral athletes’ instead, at the World Wrestling Championships.