“It feels unbelievable,” said star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra after he ended India’s wait for an Olympic gold on Saturday during the men’s javelin throw final. With a podium finish, he became the second individual Indian athlete, after Abhinav Bindra, to win-win the elusive yellow metal.
Neeraj had topped the qualification three days ago and did better than that in the finals as he produced a best throw of 87.58m to get India its first track-and-field medal.
“It feels unbelievable. It is the first time India has won a gold in athletics, so I feel very good. We have just one gold here in other sports,” the 23-year-old said after winning the historic gold.
“This is our first Olympic medal for a very long time, and in athletics it is the first time we have gold, so it’s a proud moment for me and my country,” he added.
Also Read | Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra talks about his diet and love for gol gappas
“In the qualification round I threw very well so I knew I could do better in the final. (But) I didn’t know it would be gold but I am very happy,” he added.
Neeraj began the final in a similar fashion and sent the spear flying to a distance of 87.03m and then improved it to 87.58m, his best of the day which none in the field could match.
His third throw was a poor 76.76m, he then fouled his next two attempts before a final effort of 84.24m.
Also Read | With 7 medals, India put on their best-ever show at the Olympics
By the time the Nordic javelin left his right hand in his second attempt, he knew that it was going the farthest among all and he raised both his arms in jubilation, confident that the job had been done.
Season leader and pre-tournament gold favourite Johannes Vetter of Germany, who had thrown the spear to 90m plus distances seven times between April and June, was shockingly eliminated. His best effort was 82.52m.