Javelin heroes Neeraj Chopra and Arshad Nadeem's friendship defies India-Pakistan boundaries

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalAug 28, 2023 | 18:16

Javelin heroes Neeraj Chopra and Arshad Nadeem's friendship defies India-Pakistan boundaries

Neeraj Chopra and Arshad Nadeem pose for a photograph after the men's javelin finals at World Athletics Championships. (Photo: AP)

A beautiful example of true sportsmanship unfolded during the World Athletes Championship in Budapest, where India's "Golden Boy" Neeraj Chopra extended a warm gesture to Pakistani athlete Arshad Nadeem, the men's javelin final runner-up, by inviting him to join in a photograph. Arshad, lacking the Pakistani flag, initially refrained from joining Neeraj and Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch in the picture.

However, upon Neeraj's insistence, Arshad graciously came forward to participate in the photograph. Neeraj's heartfelt act resonated not only with Indians but also touched the hearts of Arshad's fans in Pakistan.


Neeraj Chopra's gracious gesture exemplified a winner who ensured the runner-up received equal respect from the audience. Just moments before, Neeraj had secured victory over Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem in the men's javelin throw final with his record-breaking throw of 88.17 meters. Arshad secured the second position with a throw of 87.82 meters.

When Neeraj and Arshad qualified for the 12-men javelin final, it was seen as another potential India vs Pakistan showdown that could stoke fervor among fans. However, the two athletes seemed to transcend such competition as they prepared for the final.

Before the finals, Arshad Nadeem shared a picture of himself and Neeraj Chopra on Instagram, wishing Neeraj the best of luck.

He had also expressed his well-wishes for Neeraj through a heartfelt message, stating, "Neeraj bhai, aap bhi acha karen, ham bhi acha karen, Aapka naam hai world mein, hamara bhi naam aye" (Neeraj brother, I hope you do well and so do I. You have a name in the world. I wish I also get my name in the world).


A friendship that transcends borders

The camaraderie between Neeraj Chopra and Arshad Nadeem goes back to 2016, when Arshad first entered the international arena, a time when Neeraj had already established himself since 2013. At just 19 years old, Arshad traveled from Lahore to Amritsar by bus, marking the beginning of his friendship with Neeraj Chopra.

Their joint photograph from the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia garnered immense praise as the two athletes posed together. Neeraj Chopra clinched the gold medal with a record-breaking throw of 88.06 meters, while Arshad secured the bronze medal with a personal best throw of 80.75 meters.

Neeraj Chopra and Arshad Nadeem at the Asian Games 2018 held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: AFP

This marked the start of the journey for these two exceptional athletes from India and Pakistan, both destined to achieve significant milestones for their respective countries.

Arshad Nadeem also displayed his camaraderie when he wished Neeraj a speedy recovery during Neeraj's absence from the 2022 Commonwealth Games due to a groin injury. He said, "Neeraj bhai is my brother. I miss him here. May God give him the best of health and I get to compete with him soon," as quoted by PTI.

Head-to-head battles

In terms of head to head battle, Arshad Nadeem is no match to Neeraj Chopra. The two have faced each other nine times since 2016. Out of these, Neeraj has always outsmarted Arshad Nadeem. 


While Neeraj has won 7 gold medals in the last nine years at the international level, Arshad has won four golds for Pakistan.

Neeraj has won the gold medals in these tournaments: 2023 World Athletics Championships, Olympic Games 2020 (happened in 2021), Diamond League Final (2022), World U20 Championships 2016, Asian Championships 2017, Asian Games 2018, Commonwealth Games 2018.

Arshad Nadeem has won gold medals for his country in the following tournaments: Commonwealth Games 2022, Islamic Solidarity Games 2021 (happened in 2021), South Asian Games 2019.

Continuing the bond

In spite of their differing medal counts, Arshad Nadeem continues to look up to Neeraj Chopra, aspiring to improve his own game.

Their friendship remains unshaken by their accomplishments, standing as a testament to the positive spirit of sportsmanship that transcends borders.

Last updated: August 28, 2023 | 18:16
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