Diamond League | Neeraj uncorks a 88.36m throw in his last attempt to finish second

Chopra fell just 2cm short of Jakub Vadlejch’s effort, whose 88.38m in the opening round proved enough for the Czech to take first place

Published - May 11, 2024 11:08 am IST

Neeraj Chopra lines up an attempt in the men’s javelin throw during the Diamond League athletics meet in Doha, on May 10, 2024.

Neeraj Chopra lines up an attempt in the men’s javelin throw during the Diamond League athletics meet in Doha, on May 10, 2024. | Photo Credit: AP

He saved his best for the last but for once, it just wasn’t enough.

Neeraj Chopra, on Friday night, was in the unfamiliar position of playing catch up as Czech Jakub Vadlejch set the mark early on and managed to stay ahead all through, finishing on top at the Doha Diamond League here with a best throw of 88.38m to push Neeraj into second spot, just two centimetres behind with 88.36m.

ALSO READ | Neeraj Chopra — an extraordinary achiever assured in his own skin and identity

Neeraj, participating in his first competition this year as he kicks off his Olympic gold defence, looked comfortable but not at his best. For someone known for his ‘one and done’ performances, starting with a foul throw was not ideal. It was similar to his situation at the Asian Games last year but here, the competition was different.

Vadlejch, who already had an 87m throw earlier this year, started with an 85.87 and while Neeraj improved over the next two attempts, the Czech was in no mood to relent this time around. Neeraj, who has often claimed it isn’t over till the last throw, proved why he rates consistency so highly.

While Jakub fouled his final attempt, Neeraj pushed himself all the way in his sixth attempt but fell agonisingly short of the mark.

The other Indian in the fray Kishore Kumar Jena, in his Diamond League debut, was unable to get anywhere close to his best, bowing out after the first three attempts and a best throw of only 76.31m. Jena had already said his main target was to get used to the field ahead of the Paris Olympics but he would be disappointed with not being able to cross the 80m mark.

On the long jump pit, Greek reigning Olympic and World champion Miltiadis Tentoglou steadily improved with every jump but could only end up second with a best of 8.36m in his final attempt, behind Jamaican Corey McLeod who left the field behind with a massive 8.52m in his fourth attempt.

Not all favourites struggled, though. The men’s 400m Olympic champion Steven Gardiner, who had to pull out of the World Championships last year with injury and only made his return earlier this year, took top spot in 44.76 seconds, ahead of Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga (45.07s).

The men’s 200m was an all-American affair, led by Kenneth Bednarek in 19.67 seconds — again a World Lead, Meet Record and personal best.

The results

Men: 200m: 1. Kenneth Bednarek (USA) 19.67s, 2. Courtney Lindsey (USA) 20.01, 3. Kyree King (USA) 20.21; 400m: 1. Steven Gardiner (Bah) 44.76s, 2. Muzala Samukonga (Zam) 45.07, 3. Leungo Scotch (Bot) 45.29; 1500m: 1. Brian Komen (Ken) 3:32.43, 2. Timothy Cheruiyot (Ken) 3:32.67, 3. Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot (Ken) 3:32.96; 400m hurdles: 1. Alsion Dos Santos (Bra) 46.86s, 2. CJ Allen (USA) 48.39, 3. Wilfried Happio (Fra) 49.10.

3000 steeplechase: 1. Samuel Firewu (Eth) 8:07.25s, 2. Abraham Kibiwott (Ken) 8:07.38, 3. Getnet Wale (Eth) 8:09.69s; Long Jump: 1. Corey McLeod (Jam) 8.52m, 2. Miltiadis Tentoglou (Gre) 8.36, 3. Simon Ehammer (Sui) 8.30; Javelin: 1. Jakub Vadlejch (Cze) 88.38m, 2. Neeraj Chopra (Ind) 88.36, 3. Anderson Peters (Gre) 86.72.

Women: 100m: 1. Daryll Neita (GBr) 10.98s, 2. Tamari Davis (USA) 10.99, 3. Celera Barnes (USA) 11.02; 800m: 1. Mary Moraa (Ken) 1:57:91s, 2. Jemma Reekie (GBr) 1:58:42, 3. Noelie Yarigo (Ben) 1:58:70; 1500m: 1. Freweyni Hailu (Eth) 4:00:42, 2. Jessica Hull (Aus) 4:00:84, 3. Nelly Chepchirchir (Ken) 4:09:19; 5000m: 1. Beatrice Chebet (Ken) 14:26:98, 2. Ejgayehu Taye (Eth) 14:29:26, 3. Medina Eisa (Eth) 14:34:11.

100m hurdles : 1. Ditaji Kambundji (Sui) 12.49s, 2. Tonea Marshall (USA) 12.51, 3. Pia Skrzyszowska (Pol) 12.53; High jump: 1. Angelina Topic (Srb) 1.94m, 2. Iryna Gerashchenko (Ukr) 1.91, 3. Eleanor Patterson (Aus) 1.91; Pole Vault: 1. Molly Caudery (GBr) 4.73m, 2. Nina Kennedy (Aus) 4.73m, 3. Tina Sutej (Slo) 4.63m.

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