New Delhi: Gold medal-winning javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was the undisputed star as the Indian track and field team returned from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to a warm reception here.
The entire athletics team, except for silver medallist discus thrower Seema Punia, landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi late Tuesday night to an exuberant reception from fans here and the neighbouring state of Haryana. Punia had arrived two days ago.
Over 100 people gathered at the arrival terminal of the IGI airport to receive the athletes. Officials of the Athletics Federation of India, Sports Ministry and Sports Authority of India and senior army officers were also present.
Relatives and people from Neeraj’s village in Haryana came to receive him. Officers of the Indian army, where Neeraj is a junior commissioned officer, were also there to welcome him.
Neeraj scripted history by becoming the first Indian javelin thrower to claim a gold with a throw of 86.47 metres, just one centimetre short of his personal best of 86.48m, which is also the existing junior world and national record.
Punia and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon had won a silver and bronze respectively in women’s discus throw. The track and field athletes bagged three medals, the final count being the same as in the 2014 Glasgow edition.
“A lot of people came to receive us at the airport. It was a great feeling to see so many people coming to receive me and my teammates. My uncle was there and also officials from the federation, SAI and ministry as well as from my army unit,” Neeraj said. “It is heartening and motivating to know that you have [the] support of people.”