Apart from the disproportionate attention and money given to cricket, India, which will soon surpass China as the world’s most populous country, is so hungry of sporting achievement that any victory in any other sport is met with unmatched excitement. Neeraj Chopra most recently won a silver medal in the javelin event at the world championships in Oregon, US.
Chopra’s accomplishment is admirable. After Anju Bobby George’s bronze medal in the long jump at the 2003 Paris Olympics, he is the only Indian to earn a medal in the competition. Indian athletes have a difficult time competing on the international track and field circuit. All eyes were on Chopra to see whether he would win a gold in Oregon after winning the gold in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, especially when he hit an 89 m-plus throw in the qualifications. With 88.13m, he fell short in the finals and had to settle for silver.
The winner of the gold has been hurling 90 million and more like he’s hurling stones to bring down mangoes in an orchard. Ah, but. Anderson Peters did in fact learn the sport in such manner. Peter’s home is Most people are unaware of Grenada’s location. A Caribbean island, that is. With room to spare, its 112,000 residents can fill Ahmedabad’s large stadium. How was a world champion produced?
The common justification is that Grenada is nearby the US, and Peters, like many athletes from the Caribbean, makes the US their home, trains there, and lives there. Peters did indeed graduate from Mississippi State University.
There are two things: Athletes are also produced in faraway nations from the US. In middle distance running, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda are dominant countries. In Oregon, gold medals were won by athletes from Kazakhstan, Qatar, Morocco, and Burkina Faso. In addition, top athletes—a level Chopra has undoubtedly attained—basically live and train overseas while competing.
A contributing factor in our issue is the loud and annoying media attention that young athletes get at the first sign of success. Young Hima Das experienced this, and her victory in the World Junior Athletics event in 2018 was met with unmatched pandemonium. In order to put her accomplishment in perspective, Das completed her 400-meter gold-winning sprint in 51.46 seconds. US global champion Sydney Mclaughlin burned the track this week in Oregon, finishing the 400 m hurdles in 50.68 seconds. Consider this: Das’ best performance without> hurdles is better than her speed over them.
I don’t want to disparage Chopra, our athletes, or India’s attempts to surpass Grenada, Burkina Faso, the Bahamas, or any of the other nations that have won gold this week in Oregon. It is admirable that we are now generating athletes for the track and field international stage. Context, though, is crucial.
Chopra is a top martial artist. However, he has never thrown 90 metres, which is the absolute benchmark in javelin. Peters not only threw 90 metres or more on Sunday here in Oregon but also twice lately in Doha, including a huge 93 metres or more.
But Chopra’s start is at 90 metres. Chopra has never thrown a javelin further than 90 metres, and we should look forward to the day when the 24-year-old does. Less than 10 athletes have ever done so. He will medal then “regularly,” and we will create generations of champions rather than just a single Olympic winner: If both remain healthy, a Chopra-Peterson ri valry (the Grenadian is also 24) may very well be on for the next ten years. It will be an adventure worth taking.
Think about how Chopra’s birthplace of Panipat, where the whole population of Grenada might fit in a mohalla.