New Delhi: Born in Khandra in Panipat, Haryana, to a farmer's family, Asian javelin throw champion and the new poster boy of Indian athletics, Neeraj Chopra, says his struggles to give the best to his family as a young boy and achieve his goals motivated him reach thus far.
Neeraj, who won gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, added the Asian Games gold to his kitty with an effort of 88.06m event and set a new Indian national record, bettering his own previous one.
However, little did he know his passion for the sport when he was 11. Weighing 80 kg, his introduction to the sport was incidental when he visited the Panipat Stadium in a bid to lose weight. He quickly took a liking for the sport and the rest, as they say, is history.
Talking about his past, Neeraj told IANS: "If I was going thorough the same struggles today, I would have quit. I might have opted for other fields. That was the time when I was going through strenuous training practices and was focussing a lot to maintain myself as a sportsperson. Even I had to keep my family happy and live up to their expectations, so all these factors motivated me and still motivates me."
"I think my struggling period has become my motivation now," he added.
Before bagging golds at these two events, Neeraj was the 2016 International Association of Athletics Federations' World U-20 champion and set the world junior record of 86.48m. He was also selected as the India flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, which marked his first appearance at the continental spectacle.
The champion's return after his big international win was celebrated at an event organised by Gatorade here where the sports drink brand welcomed its ambassador along with actress Mandira Bedi.
He shared some of his life lessons with the fitness enthusiasts present at the event. "When we start from a small place, there are times when you feel like giving up as we lose strength to fight with situations. However, that is time when your true patience is tested, so make sure you keep faith in yourself intact. You have to keep pushing yourself that you will succeed. You should never quit and just try hard to give your best."
So what are his next goals?
"Post my win at Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, I would like to give the same performance in Olympics (2020) and the World Championships next year and get gold for India again," he said.
"Now people have started acknowledging athletes and I feel that more such performances will increase their importance. Asian Games have given a new hope to the athletes and I wish this continues," he added.