'Neeraj Chopra ended India's longest wait in Olympics' - The legendary PT Usha hails India's latest golden boy

The Javelin thrower won the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal in athletics with a phenomenal display in Tokyo

By Ashwin Muralidharan
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

One of India's finest moments in Olympic history was witnessed at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday evening in the final of the men's Javelin throw.

A 23-year-old Neeraj Chopra realised the dreams of a billion Indians when he threw the javelin a distance of 87.58m to clinch a Tokyo 2020 gold. It was the country's second-ever individual gold medal at the Olympics.. In fact, it was Independent India's first-ever medal in track and field.

Many legends, before Neeraj, have fallen short by the closest of margins. While the legendary Milkha Singh finished fourth in 400m at Rome 1960, the great PT Usha came the closest, missing out on a bronze in the women's 400m hurdles at Los Angeles 1984 by 1/100th of a second.

And Usha was absolutely ecstatic after seeing India clinch a gold medal in athletics. The former track queen was awash with excitement after the event, the significance of Neeraj's achievement evident in her words.

"It is a great achievement. We've all waited so long for an Olympic medal in athletics. It is the toughest thing to win a medal in atheltics at the Olympics. Neeraj has done something incredible," she told Olympics.com.

"India's longest wait at the Olympics has been realised," she added.

Interestingly, Usha had backed Neeraj Chopra to win an athletic medal before the event in a chat with Olympics.com. And after Neeraj's stunning throw, Usha revealed why she had become a fan of the 23-year-old.

Neeraj had stunned the world in 2016 when he won the World U20 Championship crown and Usha revealed that she had been following his growth right from those days, having seen how special a talent he is.

"I have watched Neeraj throw the javelin in his junior days in international tournaments. There was a certain beauty and grace to the way he throws the javelin. It is very attractive and I was a fan when I saw his throw.

"And to top it off, his dedication and focus is something else. He's so calm and he always had that drive in him to win an Olympic medal. That (determination) has brought the gold medal at Tokyo," Usha reasoned.

Usha has also backed Neeraj Chopra to achieve greater things for the country, citing his age. She feels the young athlete from Panipat has a long way to go now.

"He's young and there is a lot more to come from him. I'm so thankful to him for this (Tokyo gold). We all wanted this.

"I'm so grateful to him for this performance. I'm speechless and I'm so happy."