By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, Aug 08:
Subedar Neeraj Chopra, of Southern Command of the Indian Army, created history by becoming the first-ever Indian athlete to win a track and field gold at the Tokyo Olympics with a throw of 87.58 m on Saturday.
Neeraj (23), trained at the Army Sports Institute, Pune, hails from a farming family of Khandra village, Panipat district, Haryana. He was enrolled as a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) in the rank of Naib Subedar in the Indian Army on August 26, 2016.
He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2018 and the Vishisht Seva Medal in 2021 (a decoration of the Indian Armed Forces) for his meritorious service. Lt Gen JS Nain Army Commander, Southern Command, complimented the athlete on his historic performance and for making the Indian Army and the entire nation proud, a Defence Spokesman told the “Imphal Times”.
The Army Sports Institute was raised as part of the Indian Army’s ‘Mission Olympics’ program to train the vast reservoir of talent in the Army to win medals in the Olympics in seven disciplines: Archery, Athletics, Boxing, Diving, Fencing, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.
The “Mission Olympic 2020” was started five years back, in 2016, when India had no medal hopes in Athletics. The army identified potential children, employed them, and gave the best of diet, coach, infrastructure, and incentives to them. Each medal got these children’s promotions. Subedar Neeraj Chopra reached his current rank, after winning many medals at the national and international levels.
Neeraj’s father reacts
Reacting to the victory of his son, his father Satish Kumar told the electronic media, that he was proud of his son. “The locality where we stay lacks sports facilities. Resultantly Neeraj was travelling 15-16 km daily to attend the practice sessions. Soon after we heard about his win, we began distributing sweets. The distribution of sweets is on and may go on for a few more days because after all, he is the son of Khandra Village.
Ror Maratha Samaj
Virendra Singh of “Ror Maratha Samaj” to which Neeraj belongs, said that it was a proud moment for the “Ror Maratha Samaj” and the nation. The boys and girls of the “Ror Maratha Samaj” are excelling in sports and we are certain that they would continue to shine in different fields.
The people belonging to the “Ror Maratha Samaj” are of Maharashtra origin, whose ancestors continued to reside in Panipat after the Marathas led by Sadashivrao Bhau, lost the third battle of Panipat, with Afghan warrior Ahmed Shah Durrani on January 14, 1761.
In the meanwhile, the non-descript Khandra village erupted into celebrations when the news flashed that its talented son, Subedar Neeraj Chopra, VSM, had become the first Indian track and field athlete to win a medal (that too a gold) at the Olympics since the time India officially gained entry into the Games in 1928. Friends and fans started gathering around the golden boy’s family home, where 19 members of his extended family live, no sooner the news of him securing his place in the final of the javelin thrown event in Tokyo broke out. His family said the entire village and even people from neighbouring villages had been watching his performance for the past few days on television sets installed at public places.