Sports and India are like the two sides of a coin that can change the angle but can never depart. The nation has always tried to encourage young buds for athletics and games. Cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Boxers like Mary Kom, and athletes like Milkha Singh are known for their fury and fervor. However, there is only one winner and after several years of dedication and wait, India finally found its champion.
It was all unplanned
The date of 7th August 2021 will always be memorized for the first win of the Olympic Gold Medal in Athletics. It was no other than Neeraj Chopra who mesmerized the entire stadium with his outstanding throw in Javelin held in Tokyo. Born on 24th December in the house of a farmer at Panipat is now known for his 87.58m throw. He was not a passionate kid who was practicing hard to enter sports. Rather, his heavyweight forced his father to send him stadium for running. This lead to the advent of his inquisitiveness in the field of athletics. After attempting several games, he finally discovered his strength. The more he practiced, the more he loved. Since then, his journey of medals began in Javelin and he made several records at various events.
Record is broken
Neeraj underwent elbow surgery before the game and it was told that he will not be playing. It was that time when his hand was bandaged and it is now when he is holding the gold medal in that same hand. This was a very proud moment for every Indian and the curiousness turned into wishes from renowned personalities and interviews which revealed multiple secrets of his life. The lazy kid has grown into a responsible citizen who wants to work hard for the dignity of the country. His words, “For now I want to focus on my career, marriage will happen at the right time” truly proves that. Like others, he also overcame numerous challenges and gained success. Joining camp was the turning point of his life which gave him the facilities to become the man he is today!
Inspiration of Today
Everything is changing except thinking. Parents have always been skeptical about sending their children into this field where success does not come to everyone. Regardless, experiencing the achievement of a player whose journey was an incident and not a plan will motivate all fresh minds to take a step forward. On this Independence Day let’s celebrate the victory of not only those who gave their beats to save our hearts but also the ones who made their lives black and white to demonstrate India’s flag colorful.
On the 7th August 2021, 17:38 pm IST, history was created at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. After a long 13 years, Indian finally won another gold medal at the Olympic Games. Subedar Neeraj Chopra VSM had just won the gold medal in the men javelin’s throw and etched himself into Indian sports history. Neeraj Chopra’s gold medal is India’s first athletic track field medal. Apart from that, Neeraj is only the second Indian to win a gold medal after Abhinav Bindra’s historic performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Neeraj Chopra was born on the 23rd of December 1997 in Panipat, Haryana. In 2016, he enlisted in the Indian National Army. He currently holds the post of a Junior Commissioned Officer and has the rank of a Naik Subedar. He has been awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal by the Indian Army. He is a Track and Field athlete and specializes in javelin throw.
Neeraj Chopra started participating in javelin throw competitively since 2016 He has put on consistent performances. Apart from that, he also has 2 world records to his name. He competed in the 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships (the Junior World Championships) and on the 23rd of July 2016 won the gold medal. He also set a world record on that day for the longest throw (86.48 meters). The record still stands and has not been broken yet. In the same year, he won the South Asian Games. His throw of 82.23 meters equaled the national record of that time. In 2017, he won another gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championship. His winning throw was 85.23 meters.
The 2018 Glasgow Commonwealth Games were his first Commonwealth Games, where he ended up winning the gold medal. With this gold medal win in his debut appearance, he not only became to first Indian athlete to win in the javelin throw category at the Commonwealth Games, but also became one of the very few Indian athletes to win a gold medal in their first Commonwealth Games appearance. For this outstanding performance here, he was awarded with the Arjuna Award. He broke the previous national record and set a new one while competing in the Doha Diamond League with a throw of 87.43 meters.
The 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games were his first time competing at the Asian Games. He was selected as the flag-bearer for these games on account of his brilliant performance that year, especially his 2018 Commonwealth Games success. He won India her first gold medal in the javelin throw category in the Asian Games and also broke the national record he himself had set with a winning throw of 88.06 meters. In March 2021 at the Indian Grand Prix, he again broke his record with a marginally higher 88.07 meters.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were Neeraj Chopra’s first ever Olympic Games. He won the gold medal in the finals held on the 7th of August with a winning throw of 87.58 meters and created history. He is the second Indian athlete to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics and the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in the discipline of athletics.
Saina Nehwal is undoubtedly India’s greatest badminton player and one of India’s most iconic sports personalities. Saina was born on the 17th of March 1990 in Hisar, Haryana. Saina’s mother was a state-level badminton player while her father used to play badminton at the university-level. Saina originally took up badminton as a child due to loneliness. She also wanted to fulfil her mother’s dream of playing badminton at a national level. She trained at Pullela Gopichand’s Gopichand Badminton Academy, then trained at Prakash Padukone’s Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, before returning to the Gopichand Badminton Academy. Saina also holds a brown belt in Karate.
Saina is a former World No. 1 player, with her being declared the World No. 1 female badminton player on the 2nd of April, 2015. This made her the only female Indian and second Indian overall to achieve this. She is currently the World No. 19. She is the only Indian to win at least one medal in all of the major existing BWF individual events- the Olympics, the BWF World Championships, the BWF Junior World Championships- at any point of time. She is the first Indian badminton player to win an Olympic medal and advance to the BWF World Championship finals. She is also the only Indian badminton player to win the BWF World Junior Championship. In May 2006, with her winning the Philippines Open, Saina became the first Indian woman and youngest Asian to win a 4-star badminton tournament. She is the first Indian to win a Super Series title. Saina is also the first Indian badminton player to win two gold singles medals at the Commonwealth Games, with her wins in the 2010 and 2018 Games. She captained the Indian team and contributed majorly to getting India a bronze medal in the 2014 Thomas and Uber Cup, which was also the country’s first major BWF event team medal.
In 2008, she received the Most Promising Player of the Year (2008) award from the Badminton World Federation. She was a recipient of the Arjuna award in 2009 and the Padma Shri in 2010. She also was the recipient of the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna that year. In 2016, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour.
Saina has played a total of 640 singles matches till date, and has won 440 of them. She has won 4 Super Series Premier events, 7 Super Series events, 8 Grand Prix Gold events and 1 Grand Prix title. In the 2012 London Olympic Games, she won the bronze medal. She has won 2 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, in the years 2010 and 2018. She won a bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games. In the BWF World Championship, she won a silver medal in 2015 and a bronze medal in 2017. Saina has won 3 bronze medals in the Asian Championships in the years 2010, 2016 and 2018. At the national level, Saina is a 13-timw winner of the National Badminton Championships.
Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, popularly known as Mary Kom, is a Manipuri boxer and undoubtedly India’s most and one of the world’s most accomplished female boxers in modern times. Her various accomplishments and her boxing prowess have given her the nickname of ‘Magnificent Mary’, a nickname very fitting for her.
Mary was born in Kangathei village, Moirang Lamkhai in the Churachandpur district of Manipur on the 24th of November, 1982. She hails from a family of farmers and is the eldest of three children; with her having a younger brother and a sister. Throughout her school years, Mary extensively took part in athletics and played many sports; with a special interest in javelin and running. All this changed in 1998. Her fellow statesman, Dingko Singh had just returned from the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games with a Gold medal. Mary, like many other Manipuri youth was inspired by him and decided to give boxing a try. She moved to Imphal and started serious boxing training under the then Manipur State Boxing Coach, M. Narjit Singh. She kept her boxing training a secret from her family, as her father previously had voiced his concern that while boxing her face may get spoiled, thereby ruining her chances of marriage. In the year 2000, she won the state boxing championship, as a result of which she was featured in the newspaper. This led to her family finding out about her career as a boxer. This, along with her love for boxing caused her father to give her his whole hearted support.
Mary Kom’s career is filled with numerous accomplishments, medals and records. Mary’s major achievements and records are:
The only female to win the World Amateur Boxing Championship six times
The only female boxer to have won a medal in all the first seven World Championships
The only boxer, either male or female, to win eight medals at the World Championships
The world’s No. 1 female light-flyweight by the International Boxing Association (amateur) [AIBA]
The only boxer to win the Asian Amateur Boxing Championship 6 times
The only female Indian boxer who qualified for the 2012 London Olympics
The first Indian female boxer to win a gold medal at the Asian Games (2014 Incheon Games)
The first female Indian boxer to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games (2018 Gold Coast Games)
Mary Kom received a Padma Shri in 2006, and a Padma Bhushan in 2013. On 25th April 2016, she was appointed as a member of the Rajya Sabha. In March 2017, she was appointed by the Indian Ministry of Youth and Sports as a national observer for boxing. On the 11th of December 2018, the Government of Manipur bestowed upon her the title of ‘Meethoi Leima’ (exceptional lady). She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2006 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013. On the 25th of January 2020, Mary Kom was awarded with the Padma Vibhushan. She was declared as a female representative of boxing’s athlete ambassadors’ group for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.