Sumit, who had won a silver medal in the 2019 World Championships in Dubai to book a ticket to Tokyo, interacted with Neeraj after the event and the Tokyo Olympic gold medallist gave him a pep talk.
Recalling that conversation during the Indian GP in Patiala, Sumit said Neeraj’s words inspired him.
“Thank you to him (Neeraj) for inspiring me. I still remember those encouraging words. Neeraj said you have the ability to do well and he was confident that I will win a medal in Tokyo. He said bhai tu pakka medal leke ayega, dekh lio (Brother, you will surely win a medal),” Sumit told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview from Tokyo.
Congratulations to #SumitAntil on your on #ParalympicsTokyo2020 javelin gold and new WR of 68.55m.We are honoured… https://t.co/N1ki7wtADL
— Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) 1630329329000
“He (Neeraj Chopra) has given me tips whenever I needed them. He was always there to help me. He is such a nice human being,” Sumit further said.
Sumit Antil and Neeraj Chopra
The 23-year-old Sumit on Tuesday clinched India’s second gold at the Tokyo Paralympics, shattering his own men’s F64 category world record multiple times. His series read 66.95, 68.08, 65.27, 66.71, 68.55, and foul throw.
After his win, Neeraj took to Twitter and wished Sumit. “Khatarnaak performance Sumit Bhai (Incredible performance brother). Proud of you,” Neeraj tweeted.
ख़तरनाक performance भाई सुमित 👌💪 proud of you 🇮🇳 https://t.co/CNUDDtPAc7
— Neeraj Chopra (@Neeraj_chopra1) 1630323889000
“I am happy that we both have gold medals now. I am eager to speak with him (Neeraj) after I get back to India,” Sumit further told TimesofIndia.com.
Sumit Antil (ANI Photo)
“I wanted to win a gold medal with a world record. And I did it. I won’t stop here. I have to go a long way. For now, I will be going home and will rest for 15 to 20 days. My elbow is overused and the doctors and physiotherapists have advised me to take proper rest. I want to take rest, feel refreshed and then hit the field again, full of energy. 2022 Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and World Championships are my next targets”, the 23 year old Sumit further said.
‘HAPPY WITH GOLD BUT DREAM WAS TO JOIN INDIAN ARMY’
In 2015, while Sumit was learning the nuances of becoming a wrestler in an akhara in Sonipat, the youngster met with a road accident. He finished his training, took a bath, and then started his bike. What happened next, changed his life.
Sumit met with a road accident and his wrestling journey ended on a terrible note. He was riding his bike and a tractor hit his bike from behind. He slipped on the road and then the tractor driver failed to apply the brakes on time and ran over his left leg.
Sumit Antil (ANI Photo)
His left leg was badly crushed and had to be amputated.
“If I had my left leg, I would have been a wrestler. I wanted to join the Indian Army through the sports quota. I rejected many government jobs because of this. But the accident shattered my dreams of joining the Indian Army,” Sumit further told TimesofIndia.com.
“But I didn’t give up. I wanted to do something in sports. I am thankful to my coach Naval Singh who helped me in those difficult times and whatever I am today, it is because of him,” an emotional Sumit added.
SUMIT’S THANK YOU NOTE TO GURU NAVAL
When Sumit Antil was leaving for the Tokyo Games, his maiden Paralympics appearance, his coach Naval Singh came to the airport and wished him luck. After giving his student a hug, Naval took out a piece of paper and gave it to Sumit. The paper had technical advice for Sumit.
“There were many technical things in that note. The top one was to stay focussed and not to look at what other javelin throwers are doing or how they are throwing. This one helped me a lot,” Sumit recalled.
Sumit Antil and coach Naval Singh (TOI Photo)
Naval is a proud coach now. His eyes were moist the moment his student clinched the gold.
“He (Sumit) sent me a voice note. The voice note says – Coach sir, thank you so much. I dedicate this gold to you. Thank you for trusting me and inspiring me,” Naval told TimesofIndia.com.
“I told Timesofindia.com in my previous interview that Sumit would win the gold with a world record. And he did just that. I am his coach, I know my students inside out. Sumit has a fire in his belly. If he had his left leg, he would have crossed the 90m mark,” Naval signed off.
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