It was a cloudy and chilly Friday night in Lausanne as Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra returned to competition after a month-long injury break. The World No. 1 javelin thrower was the defending champion at the Lausanne Diamond League and as he lined up, a lot of things were running on his mind.
“I was feeling a bit nervous coming back from an injury. It was a bit cold,” said Chopra after winning the title, his second Diamond League victory this year, with a fifth-round effort of 87.66m.
“I am still far from my best but I feel it is getting better. I’m relieved it’s coming together well for me. I wanted to win but I also want to go back to training and fix some of the things that I noticed and that are going to make me stronger,” explained the 25-year-old who beat German Julian Weber (87.03m) — the leader till Chopra’s fifth-round effort — and Czech Republic’s Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch (86.13).
“The next competition, Budapest (World Championship, August), will be a big one for me.”
Chopra now leads the Diamond League javelin standings with 16 points with Vadlejch (13) behind him.
While Chopra was in fine touch and had a series that included an 85.04m throw, long jumper M. Sreeshankar was struggling on the runway.
Sreeshankar, No. 2 in this year’s world long jump list with his 8.41m which came at the recent Bhubaneswar inter-state Nationals, finished fifth with a third-round leap of 7.88m.
“It was a pretty rough day, a bit cold too. I couldn’t get near the board at all, 30cm, 40cm and some jumps like 50cm off the board,” Sreeshankar, the Commonwealth Games silver medallist and the first Indian long jumper to win a Diamond League medal with his recent bronze in Paris, told The Hindu from Lausanne on Saturday.
“Eight-plus jumps were easily there but I wasn’t able to get on the board at all.”
The conditions were unfavourable and all the big names struggled and Bahamas’ Commonwealth Games gold medallist LaQuan Nairn (8.11m, season best) shocked Greece’s Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.07, silver) to win the title with Japan’s Asian champion Yuki Hashioka finishing third in 7.98m.
“I’m gutted. Not happy with my result, it was not what I expected. The weather was terrible,” said Tentoglou who has a personal best of 8.60m (2021) and a season best of 8.34.
Tentoglou, however, leads the Diamond League long jump table with 21 points with Simon Ehammer (20) and Sreeshankar (10) in the next two spots.
The top six in field events will qualify for the Diamond League finals which will be held in the US for first time, in Eugene.