This is the fitting tribute from India’s track and field icon to the legend of Indian athletics. Neeraj Chopra had dedicated his Tokyo Olympics gold, the first ever track and field Olympics medal for India, to Milkha Singh.
Chopra, who scripted history on Saturday after becoming the first Indian to win an Olympic gold in athletics, paid a rich tribute to Milkha Singh, who had lost his battle to Covid-19 during the second wave of the deadly virus in India.
Neeraj, 23, remembered the legendary sprinter, who passed away last month.
Hailing from Panipat in Haryana, Neeraj hurled the javelin to 87.58 meters, the distance good enough to end India’s long wait. This happens to be India’s only second individual Olympic gold after shooter Abhinav Bindra had accomplished the fete at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“I dedicate this medal to Milkha Singh. I hope he’s watching upon me from wherever he is,” an emotional Chopra said after winning the gold as he was finding it hard to believe that he had won the gold medal for India in his very first appearance at the showpiece event.
“It feels unbelievable. It is the first time India has won a gold in athletics, so I feel very good. We have just one gold here in other sports,” the javelin star told media.
“This is our first Olympic medal for a very long time, and in athletics it is the first time we have gold, so it’s a proud moment for me and my country,” he added.
Commenting on whether he was surprised to win gold in an event, which also featured veteran German thrower Johannes Vetter, Neeraj said: “In the qualification round I threw very well so I knew I could do better in the final. (But) I didn’t know it would be gold but I am very happy.”