Khelo India: Ajai Rana's golden day

For this Neeraj Chopra fan, there was no option for him except to take up athletics, specifically javelin.

Kunwar Ajai Rana en route to his javelin gold at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on Thursday.   -  JIGNESH MISTRY

Kunwar Ajai Rana clinched the javelin gold with a throw of 75.40m on his fourth attempt on the opening day of the athletics events of the Khelo India Games on Thursday. 

As they watched the spear soar into the sky before landing on the turf, the spectators seated behind the Punjab athlete got excited and roared in appreciation. Suraj Kumar (UP) bagged the silver with 73.42m and Sudama Yadav (Bihar) the bronze (72.37m). The three strapping teenagers were the first to climb onto the podium and savour the ceremonial fanfare.

For a member of India’s athletics squad at the Youth Olympic Games 2018 at Buenos Aires, finishing ahead of competition in the boys’ under-17 age group was no sweat for Rana. “Experience matters in field events. Winning is a happy feeling, I have thrown farther at the National School Games (career-best 77.22m),” said Rana who trains at the Punjab Institute of Sports (PIS) under Bikramjit Singh in Jalandhar. His throw at the Youth Games was 75.06, and he did not finish among the medallists.

For this Neeraj Chopra fan, there was no option for him except to take up athletics, specifically javelin. “My father wanted me to become a javelin thrower. His elder brother was a noted javelin thrower, so the career decision for me was made early,” said Rana. 

When he was just three or four years old, he was put under Bikramjit’s care at PIS. Rana has not met India’s javelin sensation Neeraj yet. 

“He is a regular source of encouragement. Neeraj inspires a lot of young athletes like me,” he said.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.