Javelin star Neeraj Chopra claims runner-up position in Grand Finale


India’s ‘Golden Boy’ and Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra came second best to Czech Jakub Vadlejch, failed to defend his Diamond League champion’s title in the Wanda Diamond League final in men’s javelin in Eugene. The 25-year-old Chopra, who clinched his maiden World Championships gold last month, struggled to produce his best in the winner-takes-all Finals of the 13-leg one-day meeting series at the Hayward Field. He fouled his two attempts and his best effort of the day came in the second throw, with the series reading foul, 83.80m, 81.37m, foul, 80.74 and 80.90m. This was Chopra’s first below-85m throw of the season. He had qualified for the DL Finals at the third spot. He had won the 2022 DL Finals in Zurich with a throw of 88.44m. No competitor could touch 85m under 25 degree Celsius temperature and 45 per cent humidity.
Other field events held simultaneously showed wide variation in wind speed readings, though they are not known for javelin throw. Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic became the Diamond League champion for the third time with a best throw of 84.24m which came in his sixth and final attempt. He was leading the six-man field from the beginning following his first round effort of 84.01m. Vadlejch, who won bronze in Budapest World Championships in August and silver in Tokyo Olympics behind Chopra, had also clinched the DL title in 2017 and 2018. Vadlejch won the DL Trophy and USD 32,000 while Chopra pocketed USD 12,000 prize money for finishing second. Asked about his influence in Indian athletics, Chopra said, “After Olympic gold, they (Indian’s) also believe that we can also win. “I was there in Budapest (World Championships), I won gold there, and it will also change something in Indian athletics.” This was the same venue where Chopra had finished second in the 2022 World Championships.