Tokyo Olympic javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra qualified for his third Diamond League Final after clinching the top spot at the Lausanne Diamond League 2022 in Switzerland on Friday.
In his first competition after winning silver at the world athletics championships in July, Neeraj Chopra braved inconsistent winds at the La Pontaise Olympic stadium to launch an impressive 89.08m throw in his first attempt. The effort also helped Neeraj Chopra qualify for the world athletics championships 2023, to be held in Budapest, Hungary.
Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win a Diamond League meet.
"This win is very important for our country," Chopra said. "I feel we shouldn't be only focusing on the events that happen after four or two years. Competitions like Diamond League or Continental Tour are really good opportunities for athletes.
"It happens every year, and it gives us opportunities to do well. It really helps prepare well for the major tournaments because world-class athletes participate here. Performing well in these tournaments will also help Indian athletics and the sport," the javelin ace added.
Though Neeraj Chopra could not match his personal best and the national record of 89.94m he achieved at the Stockholm Diamond League, the 24-year-old Indian ace recorded his career's third-best throw to qualify for the final despite just having recovered from a muscle strain.
The Diamond League Final will be held in Zurich, Switzerland on September 7-8.
The first-place finish at Lausanne helped Neeraj Chopra qualify for the final with 15 points from two events. Tokyo 2020 silver medallist and 2016 Diamond League champion Jakub Vadlejch, with 27 points from four events, topped the Diamond League qualification series.
World No. 4 Julian Weber of Germany did not participate at Lausanne but made the final having accumulated 19 points from the previous three competitions. World champion Anderson Peters of Grenada was third with 16 points from two events.
USA’s Curtis Thompson and Patriks Gailums of Latvia were the remaining two javelin throwers who made the cut for the six-men final.
After leading the chart with an 89.08m throw, Neeraj Chopra logged 85.18m in his second attempt and pulled out of the third attempt to conserve energy for the next one. Neeraj Chopra fouled in his fourth attempt, skipped his fifth and concluded with an 80.04m throw in his last attempt.
Jakub Vadlejch was nowhere near his season best of 90.88m and came second with an 85.88m throw in his fifth attempt.
While this will be the third Diamond League final for Neeraj Chopra, he is yet to finish on the podium at the prestigious event.
At the 2017 Diamond League Final, Neeraj Chopra finished seventh with an 83.80m throw among eight finalists. Neeraj Chopra improved next year but missed out on the podium after coming fourth with an 85.73m effort.
Neeraj Chopra made an impressive return to competitive action after Tokyo 2020 in June this year. He broke the national record with an 89.30m throw to clinch the silver at Paavo Nurmi Games before claiming gold at the Kuortane Games with an 86.69m throw.
In July, Neeraj Chopra created history by winning India’s first silver medal at the world athletics championships and the first podium finish since long jumper Anju Bobby George won India’s maiden medal, a bronze, at Paris 2003.
Neeraj Chopra, however, had to pull out of the Commonwealth Games due to a groin injury he suffered during his 88.13m throw that earned him the podium in Oregon. He was advised a month’s rest following the muscle strain.
The Lausanne Diamond League was the last qualification event for the men’s javelin throwers looking to make the cut for the grand finale.