I rejoice for Neeraj not only due to his gold medal victory but also because it has brought heightened attention to javelin as a legitimate sport. This triumph has sparked a surge in student interest and awareness of the sport, with numerous parents now acknowledging its significance.
In all honesty, Neeraj wasn’t initially considered the frontrunner. Approximately nine other athletes had surpassed his javelin throw distance before entering the Olympics. The top contender, Johannes Vetter, held the second-longest javelin throw record and had effortlessly achieved 90+ meters an impressive 10 times in the same year. With such a track record, it seemed like Vetter was poised to secure the gold medal, making it appear nearly unattainable for anyone else
However, unforeseen circumstances unfolded, whether influenced by weather conditions, regional factors, Vetter’s overconfidence, or just an off day. Astonishingly, Vetter fell short, managing only an 86m throw. Additionally, the participant who had previously thrown over 88m in the group stages was sidelined due to injury. On the final day, when everything aligned, Neeraj delivered his best throw at 87.56m, clinching the gold medal.
What becomes apparent is the convergence of numerous events that contributed to Neeraj’s victory. Had Vetter maintained his usual form or the 88m+ contender remained injury-free, the gold medal might not have been within Neeraj’s grasp. Such a close interplay of circumstances underscores the delicate balance that ultimately led to Neeraj’s triumph.
Without media, politicians, or government attention, a mere 2-meter difference in Neeraj’s javelin throw would have garnered no recognition or congratulations. This stark contrast between success and effort is evident not just in Neeraj’s case but for many Indian athletes returning “empty-handed” from the Tokyo Olympics.
The disconnect between success and support is glaring. While athletes struggle without financial aid, suddenly, after Neeraj’s gold, there’s talk of a 10 Crore prize. This stark contrast reveals systemic issues, with many athletes facing financial constraints hindering their progress, forcing them into menial jobs post-retirement.
The root problem lies in our fixation on academic success from an early age. Academic achievements often dictate one’s worth, limiting exploration in other areas. The focus on success, not improvement, is prevalent at home, in school, and society at large.
Personal growth and efforts are overshadowed, exemplified by the reluctance to acknowledge failure unless it culminates in a success story. The reality is, not everyone can have that triumphant narrative; Neeraj’s victory is interlinked with thousands facing setbacks. We must recognize that success and failure are relative and isolated, and individual worth transcends these binaries.
Congratulations to everyone who faced setbacks and persevered!