Annu falters, eye now on Neeraj Chopra & Eldhose Paul
India’s Annu Rani finished seventh in the women’s javelin throw final with a below par effort of 61.12m at the World Championships here. Competing in her second consecutive final in the showpiece, Rani achieved her best of the day in her second attempt but failed to cross the 60m mark with her other five throws on Friday. Her series read 56.18m, 61.12m, 59.27m, 58.14m, 59.98m and 58.70m. The 29-year-old has a season’s and personal best of 63.82m.
A personal best effort would have handed Rani a medal but it was not to be as she struggled in her campaign in the showpiece. The national record holder had qualified for the final as eighth best in the qualification round with a throw of 59.60m. Defending champion Kelsey-Lee Barber of Australia won the gold with a best and world-leading throw of 66.91m.
American Kara Winger took the silver with a last-round effort of 64.05m, while Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi won a surprise bronze with her best throw of 63.27m. Olympic champion Shiying Liu of China was fourth with a best performance of 63.25m. This was Rani’s third appearance in the showpiece. She had finished eighth in the final with a best throw of 61.12m in the last edition in 2019 in Doha.
She could not qualify for the finals in 2017 in London after finishing 10th in her qualification group. Annu had broken her own national record with a throw of 63.82m while winning gold during the Indian Open javelin throw competition in May in Jamshedpur. All eyes will now be on javelin superstar Neeraj Chopra as he seeks to add a World Championships medal to the Olympic gold he won in Tokyo last year. If the 24-year-old wins in the final on Sunday (7.05am IST), he will become only the third male javelin thrower to follow Olympic success with World Championship gold after Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen (2008-09) and world record holder Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic in 2000-01 and 1992-93.
Neeraj will have company in Rohit Yadav, who has qualified for his maiden finals after finishing sixth in Group B qualification round, and 11th overall, with a best throw of 80.42m. Before Neeraj’s event, triple jumper Eldhose Paul will also compete in his maiden final (6.30am IST) while the men’s 4x400m relay team will start the day for the Indians (6.10am IST) in the heat race.