Neeraj Chopra scripted history in Tokyo on Saturday, winning the men's Javelin Throw and ending India's wait for an elusive medal in athletics at the Olympics.
The 23-year-old son of a farmer from Khandra village, near Panipat in Haryana, who took up athletics to shed flab, gave the country that elusive medal which slipped from the grasp of the likes of the late Milkha Singh and P T Usha in the 1964 and 1984 editions, with a scintillating showing in the final.
He is only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics, the other being shooter Abhinav Bindra, in 2008 at Beijing.
Neeraj's gold enabled the country surpass its previous best haul of six medals, achieved at the 2012 Games in London. India also won two silver (Mirabai Chanu and Ravi Kumar Dahiya) and four bronze medals (P V Sindhu, Lovlina Borgohain, Bajrang Punia and men's hockey team) to finish with a tally of seven.
Having fuelled high expectations after topping the qualification round with a stunning first round throw of 86.59 metres, Neeraj delivered with a distance of 87.58 metres in his second attempt which was enough to emerge triumphant.
He began with a bang, sending the spear to a distance of 87.03 metres and then improved it to 87.58m, his best of the day, which none in the field could match.
His third throw was a poor 76.76m. In his attempt to go for more he fouled in his next two attempts before a final effort of 84.24m.
The Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch won silver with a best attempt of 86.67 metres and Vitezslav Vesely claimed the bronze with 85.44m.
Chopra, the 2018 Commonwealth champion, seized the lead after touching the 87.03 metres mark with his second attempt, a distance no other competitor could achieve during the final.
The night was a disappointment for Germany's Johannes Vetter, a favourite for the podium. He was the only competitor in the final to have cleared 90 metres in his career. However, he was unable to find his usual poise and finished ninth.
This is India's first medal in track and field at the Olympics, though the record books show that Norman Pritchard won two medals earlier.
Pritchard was among a three-man track and field team that was past of a five-member Indian contingent team at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium -- the other two being wrestlers. Since then, no Indian had won a medal in athletics.
The International Olympic Committee still credits Pritchard's 200 metres and 200m hurdles silver medals at the 1900 Paris Olympics to India, though various research, including records of the then IAAF (now World Athletics), show that he competed for Great Britain.