The 23-year-old star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra kick-started his Tokyo Olympics campaign with a massive throw of 86.65m in his very first attempt, taking him directly to the final. Keeping India's hope of an elusive Olympic medal in track and field events alive, the javelin thrower from Haryana topped group A with his stunning throw on August 4.
Making his first Olympics appearance, Chopra took only a few seconds to qualify for the final as his spear landed way past the qualifying mark of 83.50m in his first and only attempt. Considered one of the brightest medal contenders for India, Neeraj Chopra will compete in the final round on Saturday, August 7.
Chopra Finishes Ahead Of Vetter
The reigning Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold-medallist finished ahead of the 2017 world champion and the gold medal favourite Johannes Vetter of Germany. Vetter had earlier said that Chopra would find it tough to beat him. The 28-year-old German, who has registered seven 90m-plus throws between April and June, struggled in his first two attempts and stood precariously in the seventh position in Group A. However, he crossed the qualifying mark in his third attempt with the final throw of 85.64m, securing the second position in Group A behind Chopra.
An India-Pakistan Contest On The Cards
In Group B, Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem finished at the top and earned an automatic qualification to the finals with a throw of 85.16m. Nadeem finished third overall behind Chopra and Vetter. Chopra and Nadeem had shared the podium in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, where the Indian had clinched the gold and Nadeem had won the bronze medal. The two will meet again, but this time, at the grandest stage in the men's javelin throw final.
Short Preparation For The Olympics
Chopra did not get enough time to prepare for the Olympics because of the pandemic, with only three international tournaments in the run-up to the quadrennial event. Kuortane Games in Finland was the only top-class event among the three, and Chopra finished third behind Germany's Johannes Vetter and Trinidad's Keshorn Walcott.
The other Indian in the fray, Shivpal Singh, failed to qualify for the final with his best throw of 76.40m which came in his first attempt. The 26-year-old finished 12th in Group B and 27th overall out of 32 competitors. All eyes will be on Neeraj Chopra, the man on whom India has pinned its hope for another Olympic medal.