Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem says he missed ‘dear friend’ Neeraj Chopra after winning CWG 2022 javelin gold

Arshad Nadeem upset top javelin throwers with a 90 metre-plus throw in Birmingham 2022. It was better than Chopra's personal best.

By Utathya Nag
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

It was a momentous Sunday for Pakistani javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem, who beat former world and Olympic champions to the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham.

While the list of athletes he beat to the title included reigning world champion Anderson Peters, Rio Olympics 2016 silver medallist Julius Yego and London 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott, it was missing India’s Neeraj Chopra, Nadeem’s good friend and rival.

Neeraj Chopra, the Tokyo Olympics and Commonwealth Games champion from Gold Coast 2018, couldn’t defend his title in Birmingham as he was ruled out due to an injury he sustained during the World Athletics Championships in Oregon last month.

“Neeraj Chopra is a dear friend and I missed him today,” Arshad Nadeem said shortly after winning his gold medal at Birmingham. “It would have been much more competitive and fun if he was here in Birmingham.

“Injuries are a part and parcel of an athlete’s life. You cannot escape that. But I hope Neeraj a speedy recovery and I want to wish him all the best. I am looking forward to competing with him in upcoming competitions,” Arshad Nadeem added.

The rivalry between Pakistani and Indian athletes is well-known and Nadeem and Neeraj are no different. However, while the two relish the competition on the field, they are good friends off it - a fact which has been repeatedly underlined by both.

Most memorably, Neeraj Chopra came to his good friend’s defence once Arshad Nadeem was subjected to undue criticism after being seen handling Neeraj Chopra’s javelin during the Tokyo 2020 finals. Sections of social media accused the Pakistani of ‘tampering’ with Chopra's spear.

On the world stage, Arshad Nadeem has mostly been in Neeraj Chopra’s shadows so far.

At Tokyo 2020, where Neeraj Chopra won a historic gold for India, Nadeem finished fifth. The two’s most recent meeting came at the World Athletics Championships 2022 in Oregon, where the Indian clinched silver and Nadeem finished ninth.

At Oregon, the Pakistani was coming back from an elbow injury, which had kept him sidelined since Tokyo 2020.

However, Arshad Nadeem’s showing at Birmingham is expected to add more intensity to the upcoming duels between the two.

Arshad Nadeem broke his own personal best twice at Birmingham and his gold-winning throw, which pipped world champion Anderson Peters right at the end, measured a massive 90.18m - a good 0.24m over Chopra's personal best of  89.94m, an Indian national record. Nadeem's effort was also a new CWG record.

The attempt also saw him push Neeraj Chopra to third on the list of the biggest throws recorded by Asian athletes. Only Chinese Taipei's Chao-Tsun (91.36m) has done better.

When pointed out that a throw like that would have seen him beat Neeraj Chopra for the gold at the Tokyo Olympics, Arshad Nadeem brushed it aside and said, “I think people achieve what they deserve. I am just thankful to God for what I achieved here today.”


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