Stockholm: Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra took his first top-3 finish at the prestigious Diamond League Meeting with a national record-breaking effort, but missed the 90m on Thursday due to a whisker in a star-studded field here.
Chopra, 24, opened the gold standard in the world of javelin throwing with a stunning 89.94m throw, just 6cm from the 90m, and that effort ultimately proved to be his best.
His other throws were 84.37m, 87.46m, 84.77m, 86.67 and 86.84m. He improved his previous national record of 89.30m set by his javelin when he finished second at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland, on June 14.
He finished second behind world champion and season leader Anderson Peters of Grenada, who won the game with a best throw of 90.31m in this third attempt.
He has thrown over 90m twice this season – 93.07m while winning the Diamond League’s Doha competition last month, before taking a 90.75m attempt at Hengelo in the Netherlands.
Julian Weber of Germany took third with a throw of 89.08 m in the fifth round, while Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Jakub Vadlejch (88.59 m) of the Czech Republic took fourth.
Another Czech athlete and bronze medalist from the Tokyo Olympics, Vitezslav Vesely, came seventh in the eight-man field with 82.57m.
Chopra has beaten Peters twice this month: in Turku where the athlete from Grenada took third and in the Kuortane Games, also in Finalnd, where the Indian superstar had won gold with a best throw of 86.69m in wet and slippery conditions.
Chopra’s first pitch had sparked hopes that he would make history to become the first Indian to win a Diamond League event. Nevertheless, he became the second Indian to finish in the top three in a Diamond League competition after discus thrower Vikas Gowda.
Gowda, the gold medalist of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, who retired in 2017, had finished in the top three in a Diamond League event four times in his career. He had placed second in 2012 (New York) and 2014 (Doha) and third in Shanghai and Eugene in 2015.
Chopra made his first Diamond League appearance in four years after finishing fourth in Zurich in August 2018. He has competed in seven Diamond League matches – three in 2017 and four in 2018.
The prestigious one-day meeting in the Swedish capital is Chopra’s biggest event ahead of the World Championships in Eugene, USA, July 15-24.
The next Diamond League Meeting where javelin throws are scheduled will be in Monaco on August 10.
It could not be confirmed whether Chopra will participate as it will take place just a few days after the Birmingham CWG (July 28 to August 8) where he will defend his title.
German Johannes Vetter, who has the 90-plus maximum throws among active pitchers, remained on the sidelines. He is not completely fit and had also missed the German nationality.
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