Neeraj Chopra is an Indian track and field athlete, who is the reigning Olympic champion and World champion in Men's javelin throw. He is the first Asian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in javelin and the first Asian to win gold in his event at the World Championship.
- Lovely Professional University
- DAV College
- BVN Public School
- Padma Shri
- Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award for Athletics
- Arjuna Award for Athletics
Last Updated: November 4, 2023
Neeraj Chopra: India’s Javelin Sensation and Olympic Gold Medalist
Neeraj Chopra, born on December 24, 1997, in Khandra, Panipat, Haryana, has etched his name in the annals of Indian sports history as a javelin thrower extraordinaire. The 25-year-old athlete has become a household name, celebrated for his extraordinary achievements on the global stage.
Early Life and Education
Hailing from a Haryanvi Ror family, Neeraj Chopra spent his formative years in Khandra. His family, predominantly engaged in agriculture, provided him with unwavering support as he pursued his athletic dreams. He attended BVN Public School for his schooling and later pursued higher education at Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College in Chandigarh. As of 2021, he was enrolled in Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, Punjab, where he was working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Neeraj’s journey into athletics took an unexpected turn after local children teased him about his childhood obesity. In response, his father introduced him to a gymnasium in Madlauda, and he eventually shifted to a gym in Panipat. However, it was at Shivaji Stadium in Panipat that he discovered his true passion – javelin throwing. Intrigued by the athletes practicing this sport, he decided to try it himself. Thus began the journey of a young boy who would soon become an Olympic champion.
Early Training and Progress
After witnessing Neeraj’s potential and his ability to achieve a 40-meter throw without any formal training, his family, especially his first coach Akshay Choudhary, recognized his talent and encouraged him to pursue javelin throwing seriously. Choudhary, along with more experienced athletes who had trained under a javelin coach in Jalandhar, taught Neeraj the fundamentals of the sport.
His dedication and rapid progress were evident when he won his first medal, a bronze, in the district championships. He then convinced his family to let him live in Panipat to continue honing his abilities. Neeraj Chopra’s journey was marked by resilience, determination, and the unwavering support of his family.
Progress and Breakthroughs
Neeraj’s dedication to the sport led to significant progress. After a year of training under Choudhary, he gained admission to the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula. It was here that he trained under coach Naseem Ahmad, who focused not only on javelin throwing but also incorporated long-distance running into his regimen due to the lack of a specialized javelin coach. Training under challenging conditions, Neeraj honed his skills and technique.
In 2012, he achieved a remarkable feat, winning gold in the National Junior Athletics Championships in Lucknow with a national record throw of 68.40 meters. This achievement showcased his immense potential and set the stage for his future as a world-class javelin thrower.
Neeraj continued to make strides in his career, securing a gold medal in the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships with a throw of 85.23 meters. He represented India at the World Championships in London but faced elimination before reaching the finals. His journey was marked by challenges, including a significant groin injury during the Zurich Diamond League, which forced him to withdraw from competition for the remainder of 2017.
However, true to his resilient spirit, he bounced back. After recovery and further training, including a stint in Offenburg, Germany, he refined his technique and improved his performance. Neeraj Chopra’s dedication to his craft paid off.
Olympic Glory and Beyond
Neeraj Chopra’s moment of glory arrived at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Representing India in the javelin throw, he made history by not only winning a gold medal but also becoming the first Indian Olympian to secure a gold medal in athletics. His throw of 87.58 meters in the final solidified his status as a global sports sensation.
This Olympic victory catapulted Neeraj to international stardom. He dedicated his win to iconic Indian sprinters Milkha Singh and P. T. Usha, both former Olympians. His achievement also led to an outpouring of pride from his fellow countrymen and women, as he became the second Indian to win an individual Olympic gold medal.
With the silver medal at the 2022 World Championships, Neeraj Chopra became the second Indian to earn a medal at a World Athletics Championships, further solidifying his place in history. He continued to shine with a gold at the 2023 World Athletics Championships, marking his dominance in the sport.
Accolades and Recognitions
Neeraj Chopra’s remarkable journey has been acknowledged through numerous awards and honors. He received the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2018 and was later awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) in the 2020 Republic Day honors. In 2021, he achieved the highest sporting honor in India, the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award. Furthermore, he received the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) and the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian honor in India, in the 2022 Republic Day honors.
His accomplishments were celebrated when he was named The Times of India TOISA Sportsperson of the Year in 2021. In recognition of his achievements, the Army Sports Institute (ASI) stadium in Pune cantonment was renamed the “Neeraj Chopra Stadium” by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh in August 2021.
Switzerland Tourism also appointed Neeraj Chopra as its Friendship Ambassador, further solidifying his global presence.
Neeraj Chopra’s journey from a small village in Haryana to the global stage is a testament to his unwavering dedication, perseverance, and passion for javelin throwing. He continues to inspire a generation of aspiring athletes, leaving an indelible mark on Indian sports and capturing the hearts of millions with his exceptional talent and humility. As he continues to break records and secure medals, Neeraj Chopra remains a symbol of what can be achieved with hard work, determination, and the unwavering support of one’s family and nation.