Diamond in the King’s Crown: The Tribune India

Tribune press service

Vinayak Padmadeo

New Delhi, September 9

Just weeks after winning his first Diamond League gold medal, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra again made history by becoming the first Indian to win the Diamond League Finals title.

Reigning Olympic champion Chopra won the coveted title in Zurich with a throw of 88.44 meters. After starting with a foul throw, Chopra recorded her best with her second attempt. He continues with 88m, 86.11m, 87.00m and 83.60m. Czech Jakub Vadlejch (86.94m) and German Julian Webber (83.73m) finished second and third respectively.

“Normally you try to start with a good throw, but that didn’t happen to me because my grip on the javelin loosened and I foul,” Chopra said. “You think a pitch was wasted, but I was convinced I had a chance because I was throwing well during the warm-up,” he added.

“I’m glad I was consistent as I recorded two throws over 88m. It would be wrong to suggest that I was convinced I had won after the second throw itself. It’s the same for me at every competition, I try to focus and do my best with all my throws because I know positions can change at any time,” he added.

90m barrier

Chopra further stated that he was under no pressure to clear the 90m barrier as winning the medal and performing well were more important to him. “I’m not really disappointed not to have crossed it. Sure, it’s a magic mark, but performing well on competition day is more important. It’s a barrier that I want to cross but the sport is such that even if you cross it, you risk not winning a medal. So you’ll think, I could have thrown the javelin three or four meters ahead. What is important is to do well on the day,” he said.

Despite failing to clear the 90m barrier, Chopra has been impressive with his throws this season, consistently clearing the 88m mark. He won silver at the World Championships in July with a throw of 88.13m. It was India’s first silver medal in the history of the championships.

After missing the Commonwealth Games with a groin strain, the 23-year-old came back to win gold at the Diamond League meet in Lausanne with a throw of 89.04m – the third best effort of his career.

“Overall I’m happy with the end of the season. I was consistent and there was no pressure on me. I’m also happy that despite the injury I came back well and performed well,” did he declare.

Support for others

Rather than relish his title, Chopra pleaded with the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to help other Indian athletes to compete internationally. “I ask the federation to also help other javelin throwers. They have done well in domestic competitions, but I think they should get more international exposure. It was very strange to compete alone,” Chopra said.

“I hope that our other athletes will also have the chance to participate in international events and compete against some of the best in the world. The time has come to compete and win together,” he added. “It’s a good feeling if someone from your own country is competing. I saw that Latvia and the Czech Republic had a few of their compatriots together. I want to experience that too. To participate in the Diamond League or any other big tournament would be wonderful for our other athletes,” he added.

Skip National Games

Neeraj Chopra will not be seen in action at the National Games, which are due to start in Gujarat from September 27. Chopra said she made the decision after consulting with her trainer, Dr. Klaus Bartonietz. “My season is over. I plan to vacation with my family friends and will be away for at least two weeks. Since I won’t be training during this time, rushing to the National Games will be a big risk,” Chopra said. “I had a chat with my coach and he told me not to rush because I just recovered from the groin injury,” he added.

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