Inspiring Stories
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Inspiring Story of Neeraj Chopra - The Gold Medalist from India in Tokyo Olympics 2020

Neeraj Chopra Who is Neeraj Chopra?
If you have followed the Tokyo Olympics Games 2020, you would have certainly heard of Neeraj Chopra.

Neeraj Chopra is the only Indian to have won Gold in his Olympics debut. Also, he is among only two Indians to have won Gold at an individual event after the star-shooter Abhinav Bindra. By achieving this feat at the age of 23, he is the youngest-ever Indian Olympic Gold Medalist in an individual event. It is the first-ever Gold Medal for India in a track & field event.

Neeraj Chopra has made the nation proud with his achievements. He is living a life of what one would imagine a fairy tale to be, leave alone life in general. But it wasn’t always that way. Neeraj Chopra has given it all to reach where he is today. He transformed himself from a chubby village kid into an international sports athlete, and the journey hasn’t been easy. Let us dive into a brief of his life story and draw some inspiration out of it.

Early Life:
Neeraj Chopra Family: He was born to Satish Kumar and Saroj Devi in the Khandra village, Panipat District of Haryana state in India. Satish Kumar is a farmer, and Saroj Devi is a housewife. Neeraj has two younger sisters. His family is involved in agriculture.

Neeraj Chopra Date of birth: He was born on 24th December 1997

Neeraj Chopra age: He is 23 years old at the time of this article.

Though one can say that Neeraj Chopra’s childhood is responsible for what he is today, it may not have felt that way then. In his childhood, Neeraj was teased by his friends for his overweight. At the age of 11, he weight over 80-kgs. Fortunate for Neeraj, his family has been a great support throughout. Seeing him unhappy due to teasing for his overweight, his father and Uncle got him enrolled in a local gym and then into a gym in Panipat city in Haryana.

It was here that his life took a huge turn. Neeraj was a regular visitor to the Shivaji Stadium in Panipat. In Shivaji stadium, he noticed some Javelin throwers practicing the sport. This sparked an interest in him. He went to a Sports Authority of India (SAI) center in Panipat and expressed his desire for being involved in the Javelin throw. He met Jaiveer Choudhary, a Javelin-thrower, and impressed him with his first throw of 40 meters without any training. This encounter between Neeraj and Jaiveer proved to be life-changing. Jaiveer Choudhary became the first coach for Neeraj Chopra.

Neeraj Chopra Professional Career:
Neeraj started training under Jaiveer Choudhary for a year. Neeraj won a Bronze medal in district championships and therefore was given admission to Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula, a city in Haryana state. Tau Devi Sports Complex was among the two facilities in Haryana with a synthetic runway. Here, Neeraj started training with Naseem Ahmad, a runner. The challenges for Neeraj were far from over, though there was a synthetic runway, the facility lacked a Javelin-specialist. Naseem Ahmad coached him on running and helped improve his stamina. Neeraj downloaded the videos of top-ranking javelin throwers to learn more about the sport.

With his efforts and training, Neeraj soon achieved 55 meters in his throw. He got better each time, including creating a record of 68.40 meters in the National Junior Athletics Championships, 2012. His international journey began with World Youth Championships in Ukraine in 2013. He soon bagged his first international medal- a silver at Youth Olympics qualification in Bangkok in 2014. There was no looking back after that. He went on to win several medals including:

- Being included in the national camp in 2015
- Gold medal in 2016 South Asian Games
- Gold medal in IAAF World U20 Championships in Poland
- Set a World Junior record with a throw of 86.48 meters
- Gold medal in 2017 Asian Athletics Championships
- Gold medal at Commonwealth Games
- Gold Medal at 2018 Asian Games, he was also a flag-bearer of the Indian contingent
- Last but not least, the historic Gold Medal at Tokyo Olympics 2020, his Olympics debut

Neeraj Chopra Army:

Impressed with the performance of Neeraj in the 2016 South Asian Games, the Indian Army inducted him as the Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) in the Rajputana Rifles. He was given the rank of Naik Subedar, a rank generally not granted to athletes.

Neeraj Chopra Olympics:
He has become the only Indian to have won Gold in his Olympics debut and among only two Indians to have won Gold at an individual event after the star-shooter Abhinav Bindra.

Other facts:

Neeraj Chopra Height: Neeraj Chopra is 6ft tall (1.82 mts)

Neeraj Chopra Best Throw:

While the Olympic Gold-winning throw of 87.58 meters could be regarded as the best throw, the throw of 88.07 meters by Neeraj in March 2021 can be regarded as his longest throw.

Neeraj Chopra Coach:

Neeraj Chopra has gotten trained under various coaches. The list of his coaches include:

- Jaiveer Choudhary was his first coach from whom he learnt the basics started his career

- Naseem Ahmad from Tao Devi Lal Sports Complex was his 2nd coach (coached him from 2011-2016)

- Gary Calvert, a former Australian Javelin-thrower

- Werner Daniels, Germanian Coach

- Uwe Hohn: A legendary Javelin thrower who is the only one to cross 100 meters mark. From 2018-19, Uwe John worked on Neeraj’s technique

- Klaus Bartonietz, a biomechanics expert from South Africa: Neeraj worked with him for Tokyo Olympics 2020


They say, “Injuries are a part of a Sports Athlete’s career” and it was no different for Neeraj. Neeraj Chopra suffered from various injuries but is the epitome of the “never say die” Spirit. With his will, he bounced back every time he had an injury to face.

In 2017, Neeraj suffered an injury in his groin in the Asian Athletics Championships that resulted in missing the last two attempts. Despite this injury, Neeraj was back to the sport he loved in a matter of a couple of months. But a bigger blow came in 2019 when he missed the World Championships in Doha due to bone spurs in his right elbow. He underwent surgery for the same the next day after the qualifying competitions had begun for Tokyo Olympics 2020. Certainly, as you would imagine, he felt that his dreams were going to crash. The fears of whether he would be able to play again started getting on him.

He had lost the opportunity for being a part of the Olympics in Rio 2016, and he couldn’t afford to lose it this time. He was not the one to give up. He put all the efforts for 16 months to recover from the surgery and get back. From hardly being able to hold the Javelin after his surgery, he bounced back with a throw of 87.86 meters in Athletics Central North West League Meeting, SA in January 2020. This qualified him for the Tokyo Olympics.

The pandemic couldn’t stop him as well, though having to return from South Africa, he spent the next year in NIS Patiala working hard in all the ways possible. In March 2021, he broke his own national record with a throw of 88.07 meters which ranked him third-best internationally. Then came the Tokyo Olympics 2020, and the rest is history.

Awards & Medals:
- He was conferred with Arjuna Award (Civilian award for outstanding contributions to Sports) in 2018

- He was honored with Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) on Republic Day 2020 by the Armed Forces


Neeraj’s life story is an example that if you are determined towards your goal, you have a strong will & fighting spirit, and are ready to give it all in, nothing is impossible to achieve. At the age of 11 in 2010, when he started playing with only an objective to lose weight, he could have never imagined that he would create a history of winning a gold medal for the country one day. But, he was ready for the challenges and was ready to make sacrifices on the way to his glory.

What are the lessons you draw from the story of Neeraj Chopra? Do share in the comments below.

Image Credits:
Image 1: Image by AP Photo
Image 2: By Athletics Federation of India -, CC BY-SA 4.0Image 3: Image by Reuters

Copyrights © 2024 Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine

Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 13th March 2023.
Kunal Jain
Kunal Jain works as an Outreach Specialist at iU

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