Indian track and field star Neeraj Chopra kick-started his Tokyo Olympics campaign by sealing his place in the final of the men’s javelin throw event on Wednesday.
At the Olympic Stadium, the 23-year-old Neeraj Chopra cleared the qualifying mark of 83.50 metres in his first attempt to book a place in Saturday’s final. He topped the overall standings with a throw of 86.65 metres.
The former world champion and the man with the world leading throw of the season, Johannes Vetter of Germany, was second with 85.64m, taking all three attempts before he could make the cut. Neeraj Chopra made only a single attempt.
The other Indian in the competition, Shivpal Singh bowed out of the competition with a best of 76.40m. He was placed 27th among the 31 athletes.
Only the top 12 qualify for the final. Six of the 12 managed to achieve the qualification mark, the remaining six best performers completed the field for Saturday’s final.
Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem, who shared the podium with Neeraj Chopra at the 2018 Asian Games, was third with a throw of 85.16m.
Chinese Taipei's Chao-Tsun Cheng, Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago and world champion Julius Yego of Kenya, meanwhile, failed to make the cut for the javelin final.
The three athletes, along with Johannes Vetter, were the only ones to record a throw of over 90 metres in their career.
Neeraj Chopra, one of India’s medal hopes at Tokyo 2020, has been in top form this season ahead of the Summer Games.
Neeraj Chopra began his season with a new national record of 88.07 metres at the Indian Grand Prix in March and followed it up with another commendable 87.80m throw at the Federation Cup.
He then headed to Europe to prepare for Tokyo 2020. There, Neerja Chopra threw 83.18m at a Lisbon meet for gold, managed another gold-winning effort of 80.96m in Sweden and threw an 86.79m at the Kuortane Games in Finland for bronze. All three events were held in June.