Milkha ji would have been very proud of Neeraj today: PT Usha | Tokyo Olympics News - Times of India

Milkha ji would have been very proud of Neeraj today: PT Usha | Tokyo Olympics News – Times of India

PT Usha| Athletics great
What a finish to the Indian campaign at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Young Neeraj Chopra fulfilled the dreams of the athletics loving community and the entire nation by earning our first-ever athletics gold. There was no doubt in my mind that he could win a medal, but winning a gold was a dream.
Ever since I first went to the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980, I had always dreamt of seeing an Indian win an athletics medal. Then I came close to a medal in 1984, finishing fourth by one hundredth of a second. I have often thought about it over the last 35 years. Athletics is after all the mother of all sport and even though all sports are tough, athletics is the toughest.
Both Milkha Singh ji and I came fourth and it is something that the whole of India has appreciated. Today, Milkha ji would have been proud of Neeraj, just as I am.
I always wanted to see an Indian win an Olympic gold. In Kerala, we usually watch track events because athletics is very popular in our part of the world. But this time around, we had great hopes from Neeraj, so we all sat together watching the javelin final. We had seen the qualifications, where he was the best with just one throw.
Even though I thought Neeraj had a chance to win gold, Johannes Vetter has been among the best in the world. But Neeraj has thrown over 85 metres regularly. In the final, he looked confident. I can usually make out when an athlete is in peak form and I thought I could see it in the way he walked around in the qualification round and again in the final.
I remember Neeraj from the time he won the World Junior Championships in Poland, when I had gone as a coach for some of the track athletes. I have seen him in other events in and out of India. He has always been focused. He would never waste time hanging around. He would train, rest, interact with coaches, and talk to other athletes a little bit, but most of the time he was thinking about his event, watching videos and so on.
In his interactions he has always been easy going, very respectful to seniors and always smiling. A perfect role model for youngsters.
In terms of athletics, he has also got good exposure and he has made good use of that. He trained in Europe and other places and some of his coaches, from Germany, were big stars and legends on javelin. His win is even more creditable because he has come back from injury.

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