World Athletics President Sebastian Coe on Wednesday said India must grab the opportunity provided by Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold medal in Tokyo Olympics and broaden athletics’ footprint in the country by holding more international events.
Terming India’s first Olympic gold in athletics “as a hugely important moment”, Coe advised the country to use it in raising the profile of the sport.
“Chopra is a very strong element (in India’s athletics profile). A one-off performance from an athlete, how important it is, is not that powerful if you don’t have a strong federation behind it. And you have that now,” Coe said during a virtual interaction with select Asian media.
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“(It is) the opportunity to use that performance to broaden the footprints for athletics,” he added.
“Regarding the staging of more athletics events, India is forthcoming in wanting to do that. I don’t know the current thinking of the Indian government but I genuinely think that one day India will host the Olympics.”
Coe, a double Olympic gold medallist in 1500m (1980 and 1984), also said that the impact of Chopra’s gold will go beyond India and reach many countries of the world.
“To have done the way he did at the biggest global stage, it will have impact not only in India and Asia but also broadly around the world.
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“I know only too well that there are Indian communities in all our big urban populations around the world. So that went far and wide and help in engaging communities in US, Britain and large parts of Europe and Africa wanting to be part of our sport too.
“The transmission mechanism, as they would say in economics, was a very powerful one.” Javelin thrower Chopra won India’s first athletics medal in the Olympics with an effort of 87.85m in Tokyo on August 7. He also became only the second Indian after shooter Abhinav Bindra to win an individual gold in Olympics.