Reigning world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada clinched the men’s javelin throw gold medal at Doha with a massive throw of 93.07m – becoming the latest member of the very exclusive 90m club, one Neeraj Chopra isn’t a part of yet.
Peters, in fact, broke the 90m mark twice in Doha, measuring a formidable 90.19m with his fifth throw before his winning attempt, which came with his final throw.
Anderson Peters’ previous personal best was 87.31m.
Peters, though, wasn’t the only new member to sign his name into the 90m club at Doha. Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic also bettered his personal best to win silver with a massive 90.88m throw.
Germany’s Julian Weber won bronze with an 86.09m throw. Weber was the top draw from the country with Johannes Vetter, popularly considered one of Neeraj Chopra’s biggest rivals and a long-time member of the 90m club, sitting out the event like Chopra.
Weber and Vetter’s countryman Thomas Röhler, the Rio 2016 gold medal winner, was seventh with a 72.51 attempt. Rohler missed Tokyo 2020 with an injury and has been easing back to competitive mode.
With the tag of Olympic champion behind his back, Neeraj Chopra will be the man to beat in a year, which has the world athletics championships and the Commonwealth Games scheduled in addition to the big annual athletics meets.
Chopra is the reigning Commonwealth champion but the world championships medal is the only big honour missing from the 24-year-old’s trophy cabinet. He had to sit out the last edition in 2019 with injury.
The Indian youngster will be eager to fill the void when the worlds take place at Eugene, Oregon in the United States from July 15-24 this year but if Peters and Vadlejch’s performances at Doha are anything to go by, the task won’t be an easy one.
Though assisted by windy conditions at Doha, 90m+ throws are a rarity in world javelin. Only 22 throwers in history have managed to breach the mark.
Peters’ throw at Doha, meanwhile, was the fifth-best of all time. Only world record-holder Jan Zelezny (98.48) of the Czech Republic, Vetter (97.76) and Röhler (93.90) and Finland’s Aki Parviainen (93.09) have ever thrown a javelin further.
Neeraj Chopra hasn’t been in competitive action since his historic gold at Tokyo 2020 – where he beat out Peters, Vadlejch, Weber and even favourite Vetter for the title. The Indian is currently in Turkey and it remains to be seen how he responds to the challenge in the coming months.
Neeraj Chopra’s personal best, also the Indian national record, is 88.07m – something he has said he’s desperate to improve upon this year.
The 24-year-old Indian is expected to compete at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Turku, Finland on June 14, where he may be pitted against Vetter, who is expected to start his season this Sunday at a meet in Offenburg, Germany, as well as Peters.
Peters will also be a challenger for Neeraj Chopra’s Commonwealth title. The Grenada man finished with bronze behind Chopra at the 2018 Gold Coast CWG.