It is a common saying that sports has the ability to unite everyone, regardless of cast, creed and country. However, athletes do not often enjoy the luxury of expressing their feelings for their peers due to the fear of backlash from fans. An example of the same was seen after the Men's Javelin Throw Finals at Tokyo 2020. India's Neeraj Chopra and Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem were among the 12 finalists who competed on Saturday to secure a medal for their nation.
The duo went into the finals as medal contenders because of their incredible performance in the qualifying round. While Neeraj topped Group A with a throw of 86.65m, Arshad was the leader in Group B with an effort of 85.16m. The stage was set for a thrilling Neeraj vs Arshad clash once again after they had competed in an exciting face-off during 2018 Asian Games.
Arshad had hailed Neeraj as his idol
In the 2018 Asian Games (Jakarta), Neeraj Chopra had secured the gold medal while Arshad Nadeem had taken the bronze medal. However, the moment that caught everyone's attention was when both of them were captured shaking hands at the podium reflecting the remarkable respect they had for each other. Arshad, who is 1-year elder to Neeraj, had revealed that the Indian athlete was his idol.
After the event, Nadeem had said, “Neeraj is an amazing talent. I have competed with him about eight times now including the SAFF Championships in India and Asian Junior Championships. But he has a foreign coach and I don’t. His achievements inspire me and my goal is to emulate him one day, maybe, beat him too.”
Nadeem deletes original congratulatory post for Neeraj
As the duo locked horns in Tokyo, it was Neeraj who came out on top once again as the 23-year-old clinched the gold medal on the back of his brilliant 87.58m throw. Unfortunately, Arshad could not join him on the podium as he finished at 5th spot (84.62m). However, it did not stop the Pakistani athlete to congratulate his idol on the historic day.
After the finals, Arshad Nadeem had tweeted, "Congratulations to my Idol #NeerajChopra for winning. Sorry Pakistan, I could not win for you," as per a report carried by Times Now.
Surprisingly, the tweet was deleted in some time and a new post was done.
Even though it is not confirmed whether it was Arshad's original account from which the tweet was done, the netizens claimed that Nadeem might have been forced to delete the tweet due to fear of facing backlash from Pakistan fans.