Highest medal count achieved and Neeraj Chopra’s monumental achievement as Olympics conclude
On the penultimate day of the Tokyo Olympics and India was in contention for three medals. The day started with Aditi Ashok looking for a podium finish and missed the moment by a whisker. She is ranked 200 in the world and gave the gold medalist tough time. Even though she missed it by a whisker but she has made a name not only for herself but also for golf in the country.
After this heartbreak, the focus was on wrestling where Bajrang Punia was going to play a semifinal bout. His leg moment was restricted yesterday and that was a concern for him and his coach as well. He stepped on the mat without any strapping to his right leg, was looking more mobile in feet movement, and looked aggressive in his approach. Even though he did not win enough take-down points but managed to gain a 2-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, he remained aggressive and made moves on every possible opportunity to take down his opponent and thus won the bronze medal bout by 8-0. His coach wanted a podium finish for him and he delivered even after losing the semifinal in rather a tame way. The medal count reached six and we had equaled the London Olympics count.
Still, there was a men’s Javelin throw remaining and everyone had podium expectations from Neeraj Chopra. Neeraj had crossed the qualifiers as no 1 ranked and was expected to go for gold but in his way was a Johannes Vetter who whole season had shot consistently 90-meter throw. Neeraj had mentioned consistency in way of throwing and was quietly confident in his capabilities. We had seen what happened to Kamalpreet in discuss finals so it was a matter of performing best in those six throws.
As is the case with these power events like discus, shot put, javelin a big throw in the first three attempts mostly assures you of a podium finish. Vetter was his biggest threat but did not get any momentum in his throws whereas Neeraj set the tone by two 87+ throws with his second throw of 87.58 took him to the top. After the first three rounds, Neeraj was leading with a 2-meter difference, huge in this kind of sport, and Vetter to everyone’s shock had bowed out.
The majority of Indian fans must have started celebrating as the closest competitor to Neeraj was out. Two Czech Republic players surprised everyone by 86 and 85-meter throws but no one came close to Neeraj’s throw and the wait for individual gold was over after 13 years. Neeraj Chopra had done it with aplomb. Late Milkha Singh wanted a medal from track and field, although he is not with us but will be smiling while heartedly from heaven. I just hope that now he handles himself well and also the vultures should not pounce on him. He should be allowed to enjoy the moment with his family.
The impact of one gold was such that it ensured an 18 place jump from 65th to 47th place for India and also the highest ever count achieved in Olympics.
In a pre-Olympic blog, had a predicted a count of 6-8 medals and we have 7 from Tokyo. Women were ruling the roost for the first 11 days and in the last 4 days male contingent has delivered also. From Rio to Tokyo we saw improvement in the count, gold after 13 years, hockey medal after 41years. Some disappointments were there in Archery, Shooting and some serious mental conditioning camps need to be set up for our players to perform well in pressure shooting.
In wrestling also we didn’t get a better haul with Vinesh Phogat the biggest disappointment. In athletics, we still have mile’s to go and Kiran Rijuju should be keeping an eye on it.
Paris Olympics are in three years’ time and we should develop more players in various events because even though in the pool of 127 players expectations was from 10-12 players which is never a good sign. Even to reach double figures in Paris will require herculean effort. Challenging times are ahead for our sports minister and let’s see what roadmap lies ahead.
47. 1G,2S,4B Total 7 At end of day 15 reading looks respectable but still in many ways another mixed Olympics of great highs and more demoralizing lows.
But for now, we all should celebrate the achievements of athletes keeping in mind that medals have been won by players who are human beings at end of the day.