After winning a historic gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Neeraj Chopra has dislodged Usain Bolt as the world’s “most visible” athlete, according to a World Athletics study.
The 24-year-old Indian further enhanced his superstar status with a silver medal at the world championships.
Regarding media coverage, Chopra led the way with 812 articles published in his name. He was followed by the Jamaican sprint trio of Elaine Thompson-Herah (751), Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce (698) and Shericka Jackson (679).
World Athletics revealed at President Sebastian Coe’s year-end interaction with a select group of Asian journalists, including those from PTI, that the charismatic Bolt was in fifth place with 574 articles in his name.
A German-based media monitoring company, Unicepta, provided the data.
Despite having retired in 2017, Bolt still holds the world record for the 100 and 200 meters. This is the first time Bolt has not topped the list.
In no way am I disparaging Usain Bolt. In our sport, he is considered an icon. The fact that Chopra leads the list indicates that we are broadening our horizons; we are now talking about more than one athlete, there are many,” Coe stated.
After winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Chopra won silver at the world championships in Eugene, USA, and then became the first Indian to win the Diamond League title.
In addition to Chopra’s success in placing Indian athletics on the global stage, the country also produces a large number of dope offenders, including Olympians Kamalpreet Kaur, Shivpal Singh, and MR Poovamma who have recently tested positive for banned substances.
Upon being asked if his organization is concerned about this type of development, Coe responded that World Athletics remained “vigilant” regarding countries such as India, not as “infringers” but rather as a country that produces a large number of elite athletes.
Our attention is particularly focused on countries with a high number of elite athletes, including India. It is important to note that countries like Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany all have large contingents of elite athletes. Therefore it will not necessarily identify these countries as culprits or infringers. Still, it will identify the level of risk simply based on the number of elite athletes within these nations.
It is clear that the Indian federation is determined to do everything possible along with every other federation out there to minimize the chances of athletes falling into the hands of performance-enhancing drugs.”
66-year-old Coe, himself a double Olympic gold medalist in 1500 meters, said 2022 was an exceptional year in world athletics in terms of athlete performance, competitions, and finances.
The total impact of hosting our four World Championships came to USD 316 million (USD 237 million from the World Championships in Oregon), as reported by Nielsen study, which measured the impact of our signature events in five key areas – economic, social (such as volunteerism, participation, legacy), media, environmental, and attendance.
We held four World Athletics Series events, where almost 4,000 athletes competed from 180 countries, 261 National Records were set, and over a billion people watched the events on television.
Over 13,000 athletes from 159 countries participated in 162 Diamond League events and 162 Continental Tour events during the full season… Nine area records were set during both of these one-day leagues, and 173 national records were broken. Over 400,000 personal bests were recorded by the 180,000 elite athletes tracked throughout the season.
It compares with 269,000 in 2021, 183,000 in 2020, and 308,000 in 2019.”