Eugene: The gold eluded him, but with a milestone silver here, Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra still made history, becoming only the second Indian and first male track and field athlete to win a medal at the World Championships.
The 24-year-old Chopra, who had emerged as a hot medal favorite, produced a best throw of 88.13m, which came in the fourth round, to finish second behind defending champion Anderson Peters of Grenada (90.54m).
Legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George was the first Indian to win a medal – bronze – at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.
It was a nervous and unusual start for Chopra, as he opened with a throwing error and had 82.39 m and 86.37 m to finish fourth after three laps.
But much to the relief of the Indian contingent and the legions of his fans at home, he regained his rhythm when he came in with a big throw in the fourth round of 88.13 m, his fourth best attempt of his career, to advance to second. place to jump. place, which he held to the end.
His fifth and sixth pitches were fouls.
Chopra had won gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year with a second-round throw of 87.58m and just needed an effort of 88.39m in the first round to qualify for the final here in second place.
His silver saw India back in the medal tally of the worlds for the first time in nearly two decades. India were placed joint 28th in the standings.
The usual big smile was back when Chopra, the son of a farmer from the village of Khandra near Panipat in Haryana, made the ‘calm’ gesture and showed the victory sign with his right hand.
Chopra, however, was no match for Grenada’s gold winner Anderson Peters, who produced a massive 90.54m throw to defend the title he won at the last edition in 2019 in Doha.
Peters, also 24, became only the second man in javelin history to defend the World Championship title, after the Czech Republic’s legendary Jan Zelezny who had won gold in the 1993 and 1995 editions.
Peters was in a league of his own in the final, as he had three huge throws over 90 yards. He opened with 90.21m and then sent his javelin to 90.46m in his second attempt. After a run of 87.21m, 88.11m and 85.83m in his next three throws, his javelin soared and landed from 90.54m in his final attempt to seal victory in style.
Olympic silver winner Jakub Vadlejch from the Czech Republic took the bronze with 88.09m.
Chopra received his silver from Adille Sumariwalla, president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), during the victory ceremony to loud cheers from several Indians in the stands, including the other athletes.
Chopra had led the Group A qualifying round and reached the final in second place behind Peters by sending his javelin to 88.39m for his third best throw of his career. Peters had led Group B with an effort of 89.91m.
The other Indian in the fight, Rohit Yadav finished 10th with a best throw of 78.72m. Rohit finished 11th overall in the qualifying round with a best throw of 80.42m.
Rohit, 21, had set a season and personal best of 82.54m while winning silver at the National Interstate Championships last month.
Chopra had won Indian athletics’ first gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year. He is only the second Indian to have won an individual gold in the Olympics, after shooter Abhinav Bindra, who won the yellow metal in 2008 in Beijing.
Chopra stormed onto the international stage with a gold in the 2016 World Junior Championships. He is currently the reigning gold medalist of the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. He has also won gold at the 2017 Asian Championships.
With one silver and five finals, this is India’s best ever performance at the World Athletics Championships.
India’s Eldhose Paul finished ninth in the men’s triple jump final, while the 4x400m relay team finished twelfth.
25-year-old Paul made a best jump of 16.79m in the three attempts he had, not making the top eight. His runs were 16.37, 16.79 and 13.86m. Only the top eight finishers after three rounds get three more jumps.
Paul was the first Indian to qualify for the triple jump final after finishing 12th in the qualifying round with an effort of 16.68m.
Paul, who came here just a few days ago due to visa issues, has a season and personal best of 16.99 million set while winning Federation Cup gold in April.
Olympic champion Pedro Pichardo from Portugal took the gold medal with a best jump of 17.95 m, while the previous edition’s bronze medalist Hugues Fabrice Zango from Burkina Faso and silver Tokyo Games winner Zhu Yaming from China finished second and third with a best performance of 17.55 m and 17.31 m respectively.
In the men’s 4x400m relay, India finished sixth and last in heat number one and 12th overall.
The quartet of Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi, Naganathan Pandi and Rajesh Ramesh clocked 3:07.29.
The top three in each and the next two fastest over the two heats qualify for the final.
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