Sunday, 23 June, 2024, Reg No- 06
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The Neeraj Chopra Story

Reviewed by Y B Sarangi

Published : Saturday, 20 April, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 713

The Neeraj Chopra Story

The Neeraj Chopra Story

Norris Pritam on the spirit of Neeraj Chopras stupendous achievements on the world stage…

Its always challenging to write about a person who is famous because every aspect of his life would have been discussed threadbare. But The Neeraj Chopra Story by veteran sports journalist and former athlete Norris Pritam draws you in with its honest and straight-from-the-heart approach.

Embellished with a befitting foreword by six-time world champion and London Olympics bronze medallist boxer M.C. Mary Kom, the book, with simple prose and easy pace, tracks the iconic javelin throwers life of a boy from the Haryana hinterland to a history-making global star.

Norris may have missed covering the COVID-marred Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but he has made up for his absence in the Japanese capital by making some hard work to serve readers a Neeraj Chopra story as fresh as he could. His narrative includes everyone who played an important role in making Chopra what he is today - an Olympic and world champion.

Tribute to other greats
Norris revisits Indian athletics past to put Chopras achievements into perspective. Right from Milkha Singh, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, Sriram Singh to P.T. Usha and Anju Bobby George, the author has discussed several great athletes to bring us some heartbreaking instances of Indian athletes missing an Olympic medal narrowly.

Some gripping real life examples, which were exclusive to the author because of his days as an athlete, and an elaborate description about the lack of facilities and poor conditions for yesteryear athletes make one understand that it was not the dearth of talent but other factors which dented Indian athletes medal hopes at the biggest stage.

Switching his storytelling from being an observer to being a character, Norris tells Chopras story with spontaneity and passion. His description of his first meeting with Chopra, which came as a surprise to him, is interesting.

More about Nirju
Interactions with Chopras family members, friends, mentors, coaches and colleagues give us an idea about Nirju the person and Chopra the dedicated sportsperson, who became the first Indian to win an athletics gold medal in the Olympics.
Also, views of his rivals and some legends, including 1972 Munich Olympics champion Klaus Wolfermann, add value to the biography. A chapter on South Asian javelin throwers, especially the details about Chopras friendly rival Pakistans Arshad Nadeem, fits well. It clears doubts about the unwanted controversy during the Tokyo Olympics related to use of javelins.
Projecting Chopra as the leader of a javelin revolution in India - with several talented throwers including Kishore Jena, D.P. Manu, Rohit Yadav and Shivpal Singh around - is quite apt.

The attempt to look at the future of Indian athletics following the impetus given to it by Chopra is also welcome. Overall, its a good and timely effort by Norris and should win the hearts of sports lovers in an Olympic year.

Courtesy: THE HINDU

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