Neeraj Chopra, 23, was inducted into the Indian Army in the elite sports quota in 2016 at the rank of Naib Subedar. He joined the 4 Rajputana Rifles as his parent unit.
Officials and trainers at the Pune-based Army Sports Institute (ASI), where India’s Olympics gold medalist, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, received a sizeable amount of his coaching, training and administrative support, believe that Chopra’s victory on Saturday won’t just be a motivating factor for future athletes of India and Indian Armed Forces, but also a fitting tribute to Milkha Singh, who had also donned the Army uniform.
Chopra, 23, was inducted into the Indian Army in the elite sports quota in 2016 at the rank of Naib Subedar. He joined the 4 Rajputana Rifles as his parent unit. Prior to that, his outstanding performance in the junior national tournaments had caught the attention of the athletics world and he was hailed as a rising star from the beginning.
ASI’s Subedar Kashinath Naik, a 2010 Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist in javelin throw, was the coach of the national javelin throw team between 2013 and 2019. He was one of the coaches Chopra trained under over the years.
“Neeraj came to us as a teenager in February 2015. But he had so much potential at the time, quite extraordinary for his age. The talent was boosted by his dedication and hard work. I am feeling proud and sentimental at the time. I am lucky to have witnessed the journey of the teenager with raw talent to a seasoned international athlete and now an Olympic gold medalist. It’s a golden day for India and Indian Army in particular,” said Naik.
Chopra was promoted to the rank of Subedar later and also received the prestigious Vishisht Seva Medal for his outstanding contribution to sports.
ASI Commandant Colonel Rakesh Yadav said, “His achievement is a motivation for not just the present generation of athletes in general and Indian armed forces in particular, but also a fitting tribute to legendary Mikha Singh.”
The legendary sprinter had joined the Army in 1951 and was later given the rank of an Honorary Captain.
Colonel Yadav added, “While Neeraj’s talent and hard work is an inspiration to every sportsman, there is a lot more to learn from his composure, humility and sincerity. While Neeraj received majority of his training at the national camps, he has intermittently been trained and coached at the ASI, and has got the required administrative support from here.”
A tweet from Indian Army’s Southern Command stated, “Lt Gen JS Nain GOC-IN-C and All Ranks of Southern Command, Indian Army congratulate Subedar Neeraj Chopra of Battle Axe Division on winning Nation’s first ever Gold Medal in Javelin at Tokyo Olympics. We all are proud of your achievement.”
In his message, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said, “Neeraj Chopra has proved that when there is a will there’s a way. He has done the Armed Forces and the nation proud like many other Olympians who have created history in Tokyo 2020. We are confident you will continue to reach greater heights in the years to follow. Your achievement will inspire and motivate other sportspersons to aspire and succeed to bring bigger laurels and greater honour to our nation.”
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