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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Neeraj Chopra wins Gold!

In what will count as one of the best sporting performances ever by a Bharatiya athlete, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra won Gold at the Tokyo Olympics today.

Chopra threw the javelin 87.58m while silver winner Vadeljch managed 86.67m. The favorite coming in to the Olympics, Johannes Vetter of Germany, who has a personal best of 97.76 m, crumbled under the pressure and crashed out after just 3 throws.

Chopra’s personal best is 88.07m which he recorded earlier this year in Patiala. So to touch 87.58m, while most other athletes failed to come anywhere close to their personal or season bests, in the final of the Olympics is really creditable and shows Chopra’s ability to raise his game and handle the pressure. The son of a Haryana farmer, 23-year old Neeraj  Chopra serves in the Indian Army as a JCO (Junior Commissioner Officer).

In a media interaction organised before the Olympics by World Athletics, the German Vetter had boasted, “it will be tough for him (Chopra) to beat me.” In the same interaction, Chopra had spoken humbly about his interaction with Vetter earlier this year during a competition in Europe, “My English is not that great but I did manage to speak something about the sport, the technique, our throws and all that,” Chopra had said.

In other good news for Bharat, wrestler Bajrang Punia won bronze in his play-off match today, and golfer Aditi Ashok came agonizingly close to the bronze, ending fourth after being in 2nd position at the end of 3 rounds. Aditi performed at a level far above her world ranking of 200, and her performance augurs well for the future.

In all, the Tokyo Olympics has been the best ever for Bharat, with the nation winning 7 medals in total – 1 Gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze. The earlier best in terms of total number of medals won was London 2012, where we won 6 medals – 2 silver, 4 bronze.

Clearly, we now have a decent winning culture and pedigree in sports like wrestling, boxing, badminton, women’s weightlifting, shooting. Yes, the shooters under-performed this Olympics and the last, but 19-year-olds like Manu and Saurabh deserve our support, and not the mockery and obituaries that sections of the English-language MSM is dishing out. The revival of hockey is another heart-warming development.

As for athletics, Chopra’s Gold-winning performance could be a watershed moment. For decades, our elites have condescendingly propounded various theories about our lack of athletic prowess: vegetarian diet, culture, losing mentality/lack of killer instinct etc. All of that now stands exposed for the balderdash it always was. Self belief, hard work, good training and institutional support works in Bharat, as it does all over the world.

The best way to generate self-belief is to take pride in your roots, in your civilization. The best role models for budding athletes should be likes of Neeraj Chopra and Ravi Kumar Dahiya, the wrestler who won silver after losing a hard-fought final bout. Afterwards, Dahiya said that he is ‘happy but not satisfied’ with silver medal and was ‘aiming at gold in 2024 Games’. The composure shown by Dahiya, also a farmer’s son from Haryana, in the semi-final bout even after his Kazakh opponent bit him, and his focused and business-like demeanor in all his bouts was extraordinary.

Each of our star performers derive strength from their tradition and roots, the same thing which our Anglophile elites love to run down and disparage. This is something our much-adulated cricketers, who are from more urban backgrounds and are often seen pandering to the left-liberal Bollywood cabal, can take a leaf from:

Of course, there is a long way to go before we create the system which regularly churns out winners. Troubling questions marks still exists over the efficiency of organizations like Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

Corporate groups like JSW Sports, which manages Neeraj Chopra, have produced better results in a short time than our government machinery and hubristic bureaucracy. Most sporting federations still have political lackeys and parasitic operators in decision making positions. Our results in badminton are also largely down to the efforts of one man – Pullela Gopichand and the top-level coaches he has pulled in. Delhi’s Chattrasal stadium has become a center of excellence for wrestling – the staff and system there should be recognized and emulated.

One hopes that Tokyo Olympics 2020 sees the true emergence of a new Bharat, one which breaks free of the shackles imposed by colonized elites and produces more world champions.

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