Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Saturday in Tokyo became only the second Indian to win an individual gold at the Olympics and the first ever to win track-and-field medal-winner for the country.
The 23-year-old joined Abhinav Bindra, who won India’s first ever individual Olympics gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, winning the 10m air rifle. It has been a lonely club for the last 13 years and the shooter welcomed Chopra to the club with a letter shared on social media.
Bindra has been sharing a personalised letter for all medal winners but this one was special. Here’s what one Indian Olympic gold winner wrote to another.
Many congratulations on becoming India’s second Olympic Gold medalist. To win a Gold at the grandest sporting event in the world, which is held once every four years, is in itself so improbable that less than 3% of the 11,707 athletes competing in Tokyo will end up with one. Add to it the weight of expectations from an extremely proud nation starved of Olympic success, and your achievement becomes even more memorable.
Javelin throw might not be the most followed sporting discipline in India but your historic achievement has brought it to the limelight, capturing the imagination of billions watching at home. The impact your victory will create on promoting your sport amongst the country’s youth is immeasurable. You have crossed the first barrier; the gates are now firmly open. Budding Olympians will now look up to you as they set out to fulfil their dreams of bringing glory to the nation.
Thanks to you, we have finished our Tokyo endeavor on a great high. Your performance has further elevated what has been evident throughout the Games - that our athletes are not only capable of going toe to toe with the best, but are firmly establishing ourselves as the favorites.
Our first individual Gold might have taken over a century to come, but the comparatively miniscule time taken for you to bring home the second is a solid indication that we, as a sporting nation, are on the rise. There might still be a lot of work to be done for us to become a sporting superpower, there might be disappointments in the future, and progress might even be slow, but we do know now that we are on the right path. We are stronger than ever because of the spirit you and your fellow Indians showed in Tokyo.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, I would like to appreciate the most important and indispensable people behind your success — your family, friends, and support staff. Having been where you are now, I know that undertaking years of rigorous training to become the world’s best athlete in a sport is impossible without the love and support of these special people who selflessly do everything they can to help you achieve your dream as if it was theirs.
Also, welcome you to the club. It is not the most happening of places yet and needs more members, but I feel your entry is going to pave the way for many more deserving athletes.
For now, cherish all the accolades and praises, revel in the memories of the special moments. Going forward, I am confident that you will continue aiming for Gold in all that you do and keep the spirit of Olympism alive no matter where your journey takes you.
With admiration and respect