India’s Neeraj Chopra, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics javelin throw champion, won the silver medal at the World Athletics Championships 2022 in Oregon on Saturday to end India’s 19-year-long wait for a medal at the worlds.
This was India’s second medal at the world championships and the first podium finish since long jumper Anju Bobby George won India’s maiden medal, a bronze, at Paris 2003.
Neeraj Chopra’s best effort of 88.13m in the final at the Hayward Field was short of Anderson Peters’ gold medal-winning mark of 90.54m. Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch won the bronze with 88.09m.
Neeraj Chopra, who made the cut for the Oregon 2022 men’s javelin throw final courtesy an 88.39m mark in the qualification, made an underwhelming start with a foul. In his first throw of the final, reigning champion Anderson Peters of Grenada set the benchmark high with a 90.21m attempt.
Needing to shatter his personal best and the national record of 89.94m, set at the Stockholm Diamond League last month, for a shot at gold, Neeraj Chopra posted 82.39m and 86.37m with his second and third attempts, respectively. The Indian, however, was still short of a medal position after the third series of throws.
“In the first three throws, I did not feel good,” Neeraj Chopra said. “My warm-up was not good. I felt something in my groin during the throw but I think it is OK."
Neeraj Chopra, nevertheless, ensured three additional throws to try and climb back into a medal position as he was placed fourth after round three. The bottom four drop out after the first three throws.
Peters, meanwhile, extended his lead at the top with a 90.46m mark in his second attempt.
Neeraj Chopra finally climbed up into the top three with an 88.13m fourth attempt which saw him leapfrog the Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch and Germany’s Julian Weber into the silver medal position.
The 24-year-old Neeraj Chopra fouled his fifth and sixth attempts but had done enough to win India its maiden silver medal at the world championships.
“It was a good experience today. Also to throw with such wind, I learned something from this,” the Indian javelin ace pointed out. “After the qualification, I felt good and was thinking about the personal best but everyday is different and there were some complications. So, I am glad for my silver today.”
Peters breached 90.54m with the final throw to increase his margin of victory and became the first man since the legendary Jan Zelezny to successfully defend a men’s javelin throw crown at the world athletics championships.
It was only the fifth time that the javelin throw final was won with a 90m-plus throw in the 18 editions of the world championships.
Neeraj Chopra’s compatriot Rohit Yadav, meanwhile, finished 10th with a best attempt of 78.72m, which came in his third attempt. His two earlier attempts measured 77.96m and 78.05m.