Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra scripted history for India at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by winning the first athletics medal for the country at the grandest stage of them all. With a monstrous throw of 87.58m in the finals, Neeraj left all his counterparts hanging high and dry as he remained in the medal contention from the very beginning.

The Indian star outperformed each one of the finalists and immortalised himself as the next star athlete in track and field.

With this elusive gold, he ended India’s 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics.

Not only the first athletic medal for his country, but Neeraj also became only the second individual Indian to clinch the elusive yellow metal at the Summer Games.

The first individual gold was won by shooter Abhinav Bindra who achieved the feat in the 2008 Summer Games.

The retired shooter had a message for Neeraj, who made it possible for the Indians to be proud to hear them listen to the national anthem that was played at the Summer Games after 13 long years.

Abhinav Bindra is also the first Indian to have concurrently held the world and Olympic titles for the men’s 10-meter air rifle event. He earned those titles at the 2008 Summer Olympic and the 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships.

The retired shooter has also won nine medals at the Commonwealth Games and three medals at the Asian Games.

In his 22-year career, he has amassed more than 150 medals. He is also the recipient of the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics, Bindra finished fourth in the finals of the 10-meter air rifle event. In 2018, he was bestowed with the prestigious Blue Cross, ISSF’s highest honour.

Brimming with confidence with hardly any nerves on display, Neeraj walked in like a rockstar to make the Tokyo Games India’s best ever Olympic outing in what was the country’s final competitive outing at the ongoing edition.

With this, the country surpassed the previous best haul of six medals achieved in the 2012 London Games. Apart from Chopra’s gold, India have won to silver and four bronze medals.

Czech Republic throwers Jakub Vadlejch (86.67m) and Vitezslav Vesely (85.44m) took the silver and bronze respectively.

With his fifth career best throw, Chopra has done what the likes of late Milkha Singh and PT Usha could not do in 1960 and 1984 editions.

“Today is truly a momentous day for Indian athletics and for the country. Nothing is bigger than an Olympic medal, that too a gold. We have waited for long but finally achieved our goal,” Athletics Federation of India President Adille Sumariwalla.

“I hope Neeraj’s gold will change the landscape and profile of athletics in the country and our standing in the world.” No Indian has won a medal in athletics since the country started taking part in the Games in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium.

Three track and field athletes were part of the five-member team — the other two being wrestlers — in that Games.