Zurich, Sep 1 (PTI) Newly-crowned world champion Neeraj Chopra missed out on a top podium finish to settle for second position with a final round throw of 85.71 metres in the men’s javelin event of the Diamond League Meeting here.
The 25-year-old Chopra, also the reigning Olympic champion, produced three legal throws of 80.79m, 85.22m and 85.71m while the remaining three were fouls. He finished behind Jakub Vadlejch (85.86m) of Czech Republic, who had won a bronze in the World Championships.
The champion thrower said after the event on Thursday that physically he was feeling “very good” but was a little tired after the World Championships in Budapest, where he won gold.
“I feel very good now, because everyone is a little tired after the World Championships. We gave our 100 per cent there (in Budapest), but for this competition here my focus was to just stay healthy, and we have to focus now for Eugene (Diamond League finals on September 17) and then the (Hangzhou) Asian Games (from September 23).
The Indian superstar, who was unbeaten this season before Thursday, qualified for the Diamond League finals in Eugene, USA, with 23 points from three meets. He had won the Diamond League trophy last year.
Chopra has qualified for Diamond League finals at third spot behind Jakub Vadlejch (29 points) and Julian Weber (25 points). The Indian was third because he missed the Monaco leg of the Diamond League due to injury concerns, while Jakub and Weber participated.
Chopra had won the Diamond League meetings in Doha (May 5) and Lausanne (June 30) — his only two competitions before winning a historic gold in the World Championships in Budapest on Sunday with a throw of 88.17m.
The Tokyo Olympics gold medallist indicated he didn’t exert himself too much in Zurich order to be able to give his cent percent in the upcoming competitions.
During the pre-event press conference here, Chopra had said that he was feeling a bit of pain on his shoulder and back after winning gold in the World Championships. He was not 100 per cent fit during the showpiece event due to a groin strain he had sustained while training in May-June.
“For me, the focus was just to stay healthy and to give my 100 per cent in my next competitions. Sometimes we need to read our body. Today, I feel OK, I am 100 per cent OK, but I did not push too much.
“Sometimes, our number one goal is to stay healthy. Today, I gave it my best but still with the focus to stay healthy. I usually do my winter training in Europe, because it is a lot easier to travel, that’s why I spent some time in Loughborough (England) for some months before competing in Budapest this summer,” added Chopra.
Chopra began with a modest 80.79m throw here, which put him in the second spot but he fouled the next two throws to slip to fifth at the halfway stage when Germany’s Julian Weber was leading.
But Chopra pulled off 85.22m in his fourth attempt which saw him rise to second. By that time, Vadlejch had taken the lead.
Chopra fouled his fifth throw again but achieved his best of the day — 85.71m — in his last throw.
Chopra’s next target would be to lift the Diamond League champion’s trophy in Eugene on September 17. He had won the trophy last year.
This Diamond League final will be a winner-takes-all affair with no points being carried forward from the Diamond League legs this season. There are four Diamond League individual legs before finals in each event, with the prize money different for each leg and the finals.
Chopra got US USD 6,000 for his efforts in Zurich, while the winner earned US USD 12,000.
The top six qualify for finals in field events.
The winner in the finals at Eugene will be richer by USD 30,000, while the runner-up and third-place finishers will earn USD 12000 and USD 7000.
In men’s long jump, Murali Sreeshankar finished fifth here with a first-round jump of 7.99m. He also qualified for the Diamond League finals in third place on the standings with 14 points.
Sreeshankar, who had failed to qualify for the finals in the just-concluded World Championships in Budapest, led the field after the first round. But, he slowly slipped out of the top three as he could not improve upon his first round jump.
He was third till the end of the third round but slipped to fifth in the fourth and remained there till the end.
Olympic and world champion Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece won gold with a sixth and final round jump of 8.20m.
Source: PTI News