New Delhi — Olympic gold medalist Niraji Chopra was greatly welcomed when he returned to India on Monday after winning the men’s javelin throw event in Tokyo and winning the country’s first athletics gold medal.
In a country crazy about cricket, Chopra’s Olympic victory was seen as a victory for about 1.4 billion people, pushing a 23-year-old boy to the stardom.
Hundreds of people gathered at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, overlooking the crowd and greeting Chopra, who gave him the V sign of victory.
Chopra and other members of the Indian Olympic team received a wreath as they left the airport. People raised the Indian flag and chanted “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” (Long-lived mother India).
“I am very pleased to be very respected by the people,” Chopra said.
The moment he won the gold medal on Saturday, a national celebration broke out. Several state governments and private organizations have begun to reward Chopra for his work.
Return of the Farmer’s son, Chopra, won the javelin throw title with a personal best throw of 87.58 meters. His gold medal, India’s seventh medal in Tokyo and the best Olympic show ever, surpassed the six he won in London in 2012.
Apart from Chopra’s gold medal, India won two silver medals and four bronze medals at the Tokyo Olympics. The silver medals were from weightlifter Mirabai Chanu and wrestler Rabbi Kumar Dahiya. The bronze medal was won by Shuttle PV Sindhu, the men’s hockey team, boxer Robrina Borgohain and wrestler Vajramnia.
Chopra is the second Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics after sports shooter Avinab Bindra won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
By Shonal Ganguly