With each passing global/continental athletics event, the rivalry between Indian Olympic gold medalist Neeraj Chopra and Pakistan’s Commonwealth Games champion Arshad Nadeem is becoming one of the most exciting match-ups in world athletics. Rivalries between athletes/teams from two countries who are neighbours and a shared history, have always been one of the most intriguing aspects of various sports. India versus Pakistan is no different. Be it in cricket, hockey or any other sports, this rivalry always has been in the limelight and dominated.
In the world of athletics, a notable India vs Pakistan duel was back in the 1960s between Indian track legend Milkha Singh and Pakistan’s Abdul Khaliq. The rivalry between Neeraj and Arshad is also slowly gaining a lot of steam.
Neeraj has become a household name with his on-field exploits, having won everything gold this sport had to offer him at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Diamond League and finally the World Athletics Championships. His efforts have put Indian athletics on map.
While Arshad’s cabinet of medals/trophies is not as big as Neeraj, he is still the first Pakistani athlete to secure a World Championships medal, receiving a silver yesterday with Neeraj getting a historic gold. Less than a meter was the difference between Neeraj’s best throw of 88.17 m and Arshad’s best effort of 87.82 m. Nadeem had also ended Pakistan’s 60-year wait for a CWG gold last year in Birmingham.
Head to head, both athletes have faced off in nine international events together, seven times at senior level and two times at junior level, as per Olympics.com.
The first meeting of these two athletes was back in the South Asian Games 2016 in Guwahati, where Neeraj got a gold and Nadeem took home a bronze. As of now, Neeraj has a 9-0 lead over Nadeem.
Despite Neeraj dominating overall numbers, Arshad is coming closer to the Indian ace’s performances since 2018 and could be a big threat to his Olympic supremacy next year at Paris.
Pakistan’s Arshad holds a lead over Neeraj in terms of personal best throws, touching the 90.18 mark during CWG 2022, where he won gold. He piped then world champion, Anderson Peters of Grenada, with this effort. Neeraj had missed the event due to an injury. It was only the second time after Chinese Taipei’s Chao-Tsun Cheng 91.26 m throw at the 2017 World Underside, that a South Asian athlete touched the 90-m mark.
However, Neeraj is yet to touch this much-talked-about 90 m mark, with his personal best of 89.94m at the 2022 Stockholm Diamond League in Sweden being a national record as well.
A look at the Neeraj-Arshad rivalry in numbers:
EVENT Neeraj Chopra Arshad Nadeem
South Asian Games 2016, Guwahati 1st (82.23m) 3rd (78.33m)
Asian Junior Championships 2016, Ho Chi-Minh 2nd (77.60m) 3rd (73.40m)
World U20 Athletics Championships 2016, Bydgoszcz* 1st (86.48m) 30th (67.17m)
Asian Athletics Championships 2017, Bhubaneshwar 1st (85.23m) 7th (78.00m)
Commonwealth Games 2018, Gold Coast 1st (86.47m) 8th (76.02m)
Asian Games 2018, Jakarta 1st (88.06m) 3rd (80.75m)
Tokyo Olympics 2020 1st (87.58m) 5th (84.62m)
World Athletics Championships 2022, Oregon 2nd (88.13m) 5th (86.16m)
World Athletics Championships 2023, Budapest 1st (88.17m) 2nd (87.82m).
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