Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra has been selected as one of the six nominees for the 2022 Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award.
A panel of more than 1,300 of the leading sports journalists and broadcasters in the world have selected the nominees in each of seven categories for this year's Laureus World Sports Awards. The winners will be revealed in April, following a vote by the Laureus World Sports Academy -- the world's ultimate sports jury, made up of 71 of the greatest sporting legends of all time.
Neeraj, who won the gold medal in the javelin throw event at the Tokyo Olympics, became only the second Indian to win an individual Olympic gold medal after Abhinav Bindra won the 10-metre air rifle event at the 2008 Games -- the first Indian to bag an Olympic gold in an individual sport.
Neeraj, who made his Olympic debut in Tokyo at the age of 23, finished top with a best throw of 87.58 metres in his second attempt.
"I'm delighted to be nominated for this Laureus Award and it's a great honour for me to be recognised in the wider sporting world for what I achieved in Tokyo. From being a kid in a small village in rural India who only took up sport to get fit, to standing on top of an Olympic podium, it's been quite an eventful journey so far," Neeraj said in a statement.
"I feel privileged to be able to represent my country and win India medals at the global stage, and now to have this recognition from Laureus and be considered alongside such exceptional athletes is a really special feeling," he added.
Neeraj is only the third Indian athlete to be nominated for a Laureus Award, after wrestler Vinesh Phogat in 2019 and cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who won the Laureus Sporting Moment Award 2000-2020, which marked the emotional moment during the 2011 ICC World Cup, when his team carried him on their shoulders in a lap of honour after India's win.
In 2011, while Tendulkar was celebrating that victory, Neeraj had just started attending a gym under pressure from his family to improve his fitness.
While there he saw athletes practising and he developed an interest in the javelin. At the 2016 World Under-20 Championships, he won the gold medal after which there has been no looking back.
Also nominated with Neeraj for the Breakthrough Award are Britain's Emma Raducanu, who became a global tennis sensation when she won the US Open at the age of 18, Russia's Daniil Medvedev, who won the men's title at Flushing Meadows, FC Barcelona's football prodigy Pedri, aged 19, voted best young player at the Ballon d'Or, Yulimar Rojas, who broke the 26-year-old triple jump world record, and swimmer Ariarne Titmus, aged 20, who twice beat champion Katie Ledecky at 200 and 400m in Tokyo.