The poster boy of Indian athletics, Neeraj Chopra, has had a stellar year that saw him bag as many as six medals, including three gold and three silver medals, in 2022. This has undoubtedly been the 24-year-old javelin thrower’s best show in a calendar year and his fans couldn’t agree more.
What makes 2022 even more special is the fact that Chopra returned to competitive action after a hiatus of almost nine months since his historic gold medal-winning feat at the Tokyo Olympics in August last year.
There was no rust in Chopra's performances despite the long break as he finished second at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, this June with an 89.30 m throw.
Achievements Galore for Neeraj in 2022
Chopra created a new personal best and a national record this year, offering a glimpse of the effort he had put into his practice during his time away from the sport. Chopra then followed it with a golden finish (86.69 m) at the Kuortane Games in Finland later in June.
His constant urge to push the boundaries was on display at the Stockholm Diamond League, where he broke his own national record with a throw of 89.94 m in early July to finish second.
However, the highlight of this year’s campaign has been Chopra's historic triumph at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.
He threw 88.13 m in the final to bag the silver and become only the second Indian to win a medal at the World Championships after long jumper Anju Bobby George, who won the bronze in 2003.
Going from strength to strength, Chopra seemed to be in the form of his life until a groin injury ruled him out of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where he was the defending champion.
Meanwhile, in Birmingham, his rival and friend off the pitch – Arshad Nadeem of Pakistan – achieved golden glory with a huge throw of 90.18 m – a rare honour – making him the first South Asian to breach the 90 m mark.
Nadeem’s 90 m-feat, however, sparked many a debate online and amongst enthusiasts of the game as to who is better of the two, to which Chopra has mostly remained unperturbed.
Speaking to The Quint, many fans have voiced their opinion regarding the same. While a few want to see Neeraj Chopra surpass the 90 m barrier, the rest feel it’s not a great cause of worry as long as the Indian keeps winning events and bringing laurels back home.
Neeraj Lets His Performance Do the Talking
The star Indian athlete apparently has taken a similar stand as some of his fans and has let his performances do the talking. This was evident when he bounced back from his injury with a first-place finish at the Lausanne Diamond League in August.
His 89.08 m throw at Lausanne made him the first Indian to win a Diamond League event, thereby, also securing qualification for the final in Zurich and the 2023 World Championships.
The following month, he etched his name in history books and elevated himself as one of the best in the business by winning the Diamond League Finals in Zürich. His best throw of 88.44 m also made him the first Indian ever to achieve this feat.
2022, hence, has turned out to be Neeraj Chopra’s best calendar year since making his entry in the international arena, way back in 2013. With the Asian and World Championships lined up next year, he would be hopeful that he can continue his good form and live up to the expectations of his fans.