Silver Lining

Neeraj Chopra knows in front of everyone whether his throw is good or not – the signature roar is a giveaway. That roar of Chopra was missing on Saturday evening in Eugene, USA. For the first time in his career so far in the half-stage of a major final, the Olympic champion did what he often does under pressure – producing a big throw and vaulting into medal position. Ultimately his effort of 88.13m was enough. silver medal securedThis is the best ever performance by an Indian in the Athletics World Championship.

The medal was a reminder that Chopra is an outsider in Indian track and field, where watching an athlete bump into a big stage had become painfully familiar. Chopra, on the other hand, has shown new facets of her game every time she competes. When the self-taught athlete won the junior world title in 2016, it gave a glimpse of his confidence and athletic abilities. In Tokyo, it was his streamlined approach and chutzpah – demolishing the ground with only a couple of throws – that stood out. And in Eugene, he showed that he had one to give when he pushed on the wall.

Chopra’s critics would argue that he did not win the gold. But that’s also the beauty and unpredictability of the game. At the Olympics, Grenada’s Anderson Peters did not qualify for the final. But he returned stronger to record three 90-plus throws to defend his world title. For Chopra, the next challenge will be to cross the sacred 90m mark. It was only a matter of time before she joined the elite group, as Chopra’s recent performances suggest. Despite her skyrocketing popularity and the accompanying distractions, Chopra will continue to soar – and roar.

Two is always better.
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