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Neeraj Chopra : An Unique Soldier & Sportsman

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This Republic Day an extra-ordinary thing happened and it was an announcement that athlete Neeraj Chopra,a  Junior Commissioned Officer in the Army who has  won the gold in javelin throw at the Tokyo Olympics  last year  was awarded both P V S M & Padma Shri.

Subedar Chopra, only the second-ever individual gold medalist in India’ s Olympic history,stands out in the list of the 29 who have been conferred the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, which is awarded for distinguished services of the “most exceptional order”.

The others include 17 Lt Generals,one Major General,three Vice Admirals and seven Air Marshals. In fact one of the PVSM recipients is Lt Gen Manoj Pande, A V S M, V S M, Vice Chief of Army Staff tipped to succeed  Gen M M Naravane, who either becomes C DS or retires in April,2022, as next Army Chief in the rank of  General.

Neeraj also becomes only the third Service Officer to be awarded a civil award after   Gen (later  Field  Marshal) S H F J Manekshaw was conferred a Padma Vibhushan in 1972 for liberating     Bangla Desh & Gen Bipin Rawat ,C D S ,  who died  in a helicopter crash in December,2021, a  posthumous recipient of a Padma Vibhushan this year.

Another uniqueness of  Padmashri Chopra is that he has been nominated  for the prestigious Laureus Sports Award in “World Breakthrough  of the  Year” Award. Here  also he is the only third sportsperson after Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar& wrestler Vignesh Phogat to be nominated for  this award . 

Neeraj was born in a village named Khandwa, Haryana, on 24 December,1997.His parents – Satish Kumar & Saidevi belong to a farming community  whose ancestors participated in third Battle of Panipat.While studying in D A V  College, Chandigarh, he joined 4 Raj Rifles as a direct entry Naik Subedar in 2016.Due to his  Winning aGold Medal in Commonwealth Games he was promoted as a Subedar & also awarded a Vishisht Seva Medal or V S M in 2018

He was awarded  an Arjun Medal in 2018 . If he maintains and improves on his javelin throw distance  of 87.58 m, achieved in second attempt at Tokyo Olympics, he can retire as at least a Colonel with a Padma Vibhushan as he has already joined the galaxy of glamorous Brand Ambassadors like Virat Kohli & M S Dhoni. He is the latest most eligible bachelor & sky is not his limit!

Govind Tekale

A retired teacher at Sainik School Kazhakootam, besides his lifelong reading passion he is now an avid writer.

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