New Delhi, 26 August: In a historic first, three Indian-led Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra made it to the javelin throw final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.
Competing in a highly competitive field and in slightly overcast conditions, Neeraj Chopra, Manu DP, and Kishore Jena made it to the 12-man final scheduled on Sunday.
Neeraj produced a season’s best throw of 88.77m with his first attempt to gain a direct entry into the final. The automatic qualifying mark was 83.00m. The 25-year-old Indian did not go for his next two attempts.
The clearance of 88.77m also saw Neeraj breach the Paris Olympic entry standard in the javelin throw. The entry standard for the javelin throw event for the upcoming Summer Games is 85.50m.
Neeraj the 2022 world championships silver medalist, holds India’s national record of 89.94m. The Indian javelin ace achieved his previous season-best of 88.67 at the Doha Diamond League in May. “I had a couple of good throws during my warm-up and I felt confident that I would make it past the first round,” Neeraj said after qualifying for the final.
"I have not competed much this year because I wanted to protect myself from injuries ahead of this competition. I’ll give my everything at this year’s world championships final on Sunday."
The 23-year-old Manu DP, who was in Group A with Neeraj Chopra, finished sixth overall across both groups and qualified for the final courtesy his throw of 81.31m. "My target was to achieve the 85m mark. I was not thinking about the final but my focus was to achieve a new personal best. I did not have the best warm-ups before the start and I think that affected my performance today. Let's see what happens in the final," said Manu who has a personal best of 84.35m.
Kishore Jena, competing in Group B, made the cut with an 80.55m throw. He was ninth in the standings.
Commonwealth Games champion, Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem, threw 86.79m with his final attempt to finish second behind Neeraj overall. Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic came third with a distance of 83.50. European champion Julian Weber from Germany threw 82.39m to come fourth.
2022 champion Anderson Peters from Grenada had an off day and his best throw measured 78.49m. He missed out on a place in the final after finishing 16th in a field of 36.
Earlier the national record holder Jeswin Aldrin fell way short of his personal best and finished 11th in the long jump final with a best effort of 7.77m. He came into the championships with an effort of 8.42m, which is also India’s national record. However, the 21-year-old Indian athlete fouled on his first two attempts of the night and could only clear 7.77m with his third jump in the 12-man final.
Only the top eight athletes qualified for the next three jumps.
Jamaica’s 22-year-old Wayne Pinnock, who topped the qualifying round with a new world-leading effort of 8.54m, led the race for gold after the first five attempts with an impressive leap of 8.50m. However, Miltiadis Tentoglou from Greece, who claimed the Olympic gold medal on his final jump two years ago, kept his composure to pull off an 8.52m jump on his last attempt to claim his maiden world championships gold. Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle, the 2019 world champion, won the bronze with 8.27m.
In the qualifying round, Aldrin sneaked into the 12-man final with an 8.00m jump while India’s top-ranked men’s long jumper Murali Sreeshankar missed the cut with a best effort of 7.74m.
In the 35km race walk, Ram Baboo crossed the finish line in 2:39:07 to finish 27th among 47 competitors. Ram Baboo holds the national record of 2:29:56 in the event.
Alvaro Martin bagged the gold medal with a new Spanish national record of 2:24:30 and was followed by Ecuador’s Brian Pintado with 2:24:34. Japan's Masatora Kawano claimed bronze in 2:25:12.