While javelin throw might not be a popular track and field sport in the country, Neeraj Chopra's gold medal-winning feat at the Tokyo Olympics and the Athletics Federation of India's (AFI) decision to celebrate August 7 each year as "National Javelin Throw Day" has received a big thumbs up from sports enthusiasts across the country.
Fans on social media termed the AFI decision "groundbreaking", while others said, "this will help our young generation to achieve more".
"Brilliant… Hope they (AFI) make it a big event every year with Javelin competition across the country. Will be truly groundbreaking," tweeted a fan, while another wrote, "Good move everyone must support… this will help our young he generation to achieve more."
On Monday, during a felicitation ceremony for Chopra, AFI had announced that August 7 each year would be celebrated as the "National Javelin Throw Day" with competitions in all states and union territories to commemorate the athlete's feat of winning the country's first athletics gold medal at the Olympic Games with a throw of 87.58m.
"We will celebrate August 7 as National Javelin Day from next year to mark Neeraj's victory. All our affiliated units will hold Javelin competitions in the respective States (and Union Territories). And a year later, we will get all our 600-plus district units also to have similar competitions on August 7," AFI Planning Committee chairman Lalit Bhanot had said at the function on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Chopra had said he was humbled by the announcement. "I am feeling good that the AFI is making my achievement to be remembered in the years to come. I will be happier if my gold medal win inspires youngsters to take to athletics, especially javelin throw," he said.
"If the children are getting the Javelins and other facilities, I am sure they will come and take up the sport. I will be happy to cheer for them and they can be medal winners in the future," he said.
Chopra said the turning point in his career was his inclusion in the national camp after he finished fifth in the National Games in Kerala in 2015. "Everything changed after I joined the national camp -- equipment, training facilities, and diet. The feeling of training with the best javelin throwers in the country was special," he said.
"I had already won the gold in Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and now the Olympic Games. So, my next target is the gold in the World Athletics Championships (in Oregon) next year. The World Championships is a big competition and sometimes tougher than the Olympic Games.
"I am not going to be content with this Olympic gold. I will want to win the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and Olympic Games titles again," he said, pointing out that he was concerned about a few athletes testing positive for Covid-19 in the Games Village and that he was worried for himself.