Asian Games gold medallists Neeraj Chopra and Amit Panghal, in an interaction with NDTV at the Yuva Conclave talked about their journeys so far. Actor and a sports team owner Abhishek Bachchan, who was also one of the panelists, revealed that Bollywood star Katrina Kaif is a huge fan of the javelin thrower. Bachchan then went on to ask if Neeraj Chopra would like to join the movies but the sports star politely refused. “I am a big zero in acting, please let me stick to sports”, Neeraj said.
Neeraj was India’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the recently-concluded Asian Games 2018 in Indonesia and he acknowledged that it was a huge honour as a lot of sports stars were a part of the contingent.
Neeraj Chopra shattered his own national record by clearing a distance of 88.06m in Indonesia.
Neeraj Chopra also revealed that he has received a lot of support from friends and family over the years. Talking about how he got into sports, Neeraj said, “I gained a lot of weight when I was young. My uncle suggested I should join a gym. And that’s how I met javelin throwers. They appreciated my first throw and I started training with them. It wasn’t easy in the beginning but then I started winning medals”.
Wrestler Amit Panghal, who also won a gold at the Asian Games, revealed that after losing matches to 2016 Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan, he devised strategies to counter his opponent and it worked.
On a lighter note, Amit said, “When there is no competition, I eat whatever I can get my hands on. But when there is one, we have to watch our weight so much that sometimes even a gulp of water is too much.”
Abhishek Bachchan, who is a die-hard sports fan, said that our players have a lot of talent and if the best kind of infrastructure is provided, India would be an unstoppable force.
Talking about how he got associated with sports, he said, “Many years ago, I went to the Rio World Cup with my dad. And I met the boss of FIFA. And he said something which really hurt me. He said 1.3 billion people and you can’t put 11 people together? I told him to come to a cricket field. Those 11 people will meet you there.”
He signed off by saying that it is all about the viewership which brings in the money and creates opportunities for the players and hopes that lesser-known sports get their fair share of following in the future.