Athletics

Neeraj Chopra makes history with javelin silver

Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra made history winning the javelin silver at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday but midway through the final he was in the fourth spot with 86.37m after opening the series with a foul.

Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra made history winning the javelin silver at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday but midway through the final he was in the fourth spot with 86.37m after opening the series with a foul. | Photo Credit: AFP

Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra made history winning the javelin silver at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday but midway through the final he was in the fourth spot with 86.37m after opening the series with a foul.

For a man used to grabbing the lead with his opening effort — as he did at the Tokyo Olympics qualification and final rounds and also in the qualifiers here — Neeraj appeared to be stuck in a rather different world in the final.

What was running in his mind then?

“I was only thinking of how to throw at the target I had imagined. With time, the competition also gets tougher. The fourth throw was good, but, I feel, it could have been better. Anyway, whatever I did, I am happy with the silver,” said the 24-year-old, the country’s greatest athlete and also the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games champion.

Anju’s take

“I was a little bit tense after seeing the first two throws (a foul followed by an 82.39m),” Anju Bobby George, the country’s only other World Championships medallist with her long jump bronze in Paris 2003, told The Hindu.

“And then, when he started the fourth throw I knew it would end up being a big one,” she added.

For a country used to disappointments on the big stage, for a few minutes, it felt as if its Olympic champion was also falling into this habit.

But, suddenly misgivings were replaced by joy as Neeraj’s 88.13m fourth attempt made him the country’s first-ever silver medallist and the first male medallist at the Worlds, pushing Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch (88.09) to bronze.

Grenada’s defending World champion Anderson Peters retained his title with a massive 90.21m opener and then followed it with two more 90-plus throws (90.46 & 90.54) in what was perhaps the greatest series in Worlds history.

Wind, a challenge

Neeraj and Peters said the wind conditions posed a challenge.

“Throwing in this wind was also a learning experience. But we have the Worlds again next year, I will try to do better in Budapest,” said Neeraj.

“Most throwers prefer the wind from behind, but today we had a head wind, so it was a bit challenging but I pulled it off,” said Peters.

Below par

Meanwhile, Rohit Yadav, the other Indian in the javelin final, could not touch 80m — a distance he had crossed in the qualification round (80.42) — and finished 10th with 78.72.

Eldhose Paul in action in the triple jump final.

Eldhose Paul in action in the triple jump final. | Photo Credit: Reuters

And in the men’s triple jump, Eldhose Paul missed the last-eight by 7cm and had a best of 16.79m on the second of his three attempts to finish a decent ninth.

However, there was big disappointment in the men’s 4x400m relay where Asian record-holder India (rec. 3:00.25s, Tokyo Olympics), comprising Muhammed Anas, Muhammed Ajmal, Naganathan Pandi and Rajesh Ramesh, clocked a poor 3:07.23s to finish sixth and last in its heat (12 th overall) and failed to make the final.


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Printable version | Sep 16, 2022 10:04:31 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/neeraj-chopra-makes-history-with-javelin-silver/article65677829.ece