Beijing 2008 gold medallist Abhinav Bindra welcomes Neeraj Chopra to ‘the club’

 India’s first individual gold medallist at the Olympic Games, rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra on Saturday welcomed Neeraj Chopra to “the club” of Indian individual gold medallists and hoped the javelin throwers entry will pave the way for many more athletes winning gold for India.

“Also, (I) welcome you to the club. It is not the most happening of places yet and needs more members, but I feel your entry is going to pave the way for many more deserving athletes,” Bindra said in a personalised letter he tweeted as his reaction to Chopra winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Bindra, who won gold in 10m air rifle shooting at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, told Chopra: “Thanks to you, we have finished our Tokyo endeavour on a great high. Your performance has further elevated what has been evident throughout the Games — that our athletes are not only capable of going toe to toe with the best, but are firmly establishing ourselves as the favourites.”

The 23-year-old Chopra killed off all competition with a massive throw of 87.03 in the first attempt and then improved it to 87.58 in the second chance. Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic took silver with a throw of 86.67m.

“Javelin throw might not be the most followed sporting discipline in India but your historic achievement has brought it to the limelight, capturing the imagination of billions watching at home. The impact your victory will create on promoting your sport amongst the country’s youth is immeasurable.

“You have crossed the first barrier; the gates are now firmly open. Budding Olympians will now look up to you as they set out to fulfil their dreams of bringing glory to the nation,” Bindra said.

Bindra said that India’s first individual gold might have taken over a century to come but the relatively smaller time it took for the second “is a solid indication that we, as a sporting nation, are on the rise.”

He said winning gold medal in the Olympics is a very rare feat and asked Chopra to “cherish all the accolades and praises, revel in the memories of the special moments”.

“To win gold at the grandest sporting event in the world, which is held once every four years, is in itself so improbable that less than 3% of the 11,707 athletes competing in Tokyo will end up with one. Add to it the weight of expectations from an extremely proud nation starved of Olympic success, and your achievement becomes even more memorable,” Bindra said.

He ended his statement with the hope that Chopra will continue to aiming for gold in future. “Going forward, I am confident that you will continue aiming for Gold in all that you do and keep the spirit of Olympism alive no matter where your journey takes you,” he added.