NEW DELHI: When the Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra wrote the history of the world championships in the distance Eugene in the USA, long jump pioneer Anju Bobby George had goosebumps in Bangalore, recalling an identical situation.
Chopra, 24, was fourth after three rounds in the javelin throw final before making a comeback with a fourth throw of 88.13m to jump to second place, which he held until the end.
Chopra thus became only the second Indian and the first male track and field athlete to win a medal at the World Championships. The legendary Anju was the first Indian to win a medal – bronze – at the World Championships, at the 2003 edition in Paris.
“I thought my God, the same situation I was in 2003 in Paris, it had happened to Neeraj. I had goosebumps. He was fourth after three laps and I was also fourth after three laps,” Anju told PTI.
“I was on top after the first round, but after the third I was fourth and I was no longer in medal position. But I was determined to come back and win a medal, which I did. I think the same thing happened to Neeraj too.”
It was a nervous start for Chopra as he opened with a foul before recording 82.39m and 86.37m to move into fourth after three rounds.
But, much to the relief of the Indian contingent and the legions of his fans at home, he found his stride as he fired a big fourth-round throw of 88.13m, his fourth career-best effort, to move into second place. . .
His fifth and sixth pitches were fouls.
By comparison, Anju started with a 6.61m to lay down after the first lap before having two false jumps, which dropped her to fourth place halfway through. She landed a jump of 6.56m on lap four, which still kept her fourth.
But her fifth-round leap of 6.70m paved the way for what was a historic bronze medal.
“You can’t be a medal-winning champion if you lose confidence easily. If you’re among the best in the world, you have to trust your abilities and stay focused to get the result and win a medal,” said the 45-year-old. year. Anju, who is also senior vice president of Indian Athletics Federation (AFI).
“Winning the Olympic crown and then a silver medal at the World Championships is a very big achievement. The way he handled the pressure and the difficult conditions was exceptional. He made the country proud again and again.”
Anju said she was so engrossed in the Chopra event that she herself felt the “pressure” while watching the live telecast early this morning.
“When he fouls in his first round, every Indian must have been knocked out. I was also under pressure because normally he throws his best in the first or second round.
“It was a relief that he came back strong with his fourth round. Now he is India’s second World Championship medalist after me. She is in my company.
“After his ordeal he also said I was the trailblazer with the first medal from the Paris 2003 meet. It was so nice of him and he is so humble and down to earth.”
Eugene’s world championships are the best in India’s history with one silver medal and five final appearances.
“I hope this trend will continue. We have waited 19 years for a medal. Now I hope we don’t have to wait that long for the next medal. Of course Neeraj is here and we have championships of the world next year and the medals should come.
“Indian Athletics make some progress. Besides Neeraj, there are others who can win medals (at world championships). We are also hoping for a very good show at the next Commonwealth Games, hoping for a handful of medals.”
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