Neeraj Chopra strikes gold at Kuortane Games in Finland
Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Saturday won the gold medal at the Kuortane Games in Finland, just his second competition since winning the top prize at the Tokyo Games last year.
Chopra won after registering a throw of 86.69m on his first attempt, which would remain his only legal one, at the rain-washed track. The Indian finished ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott and world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada.
On a rain-drenched track, Chopra started well, but made an intentional foul with his second throw. He then had a nasty fall on the slippery surface as he went for his third throw, following which he decided not to attempt anymore since he was already leading the pack.
Walcott finished a close second with a throw of 86.64m, while Peters was third with a best attempt of 84.75.
Earlier in the week, Chopra won the silver medal at the Paavo Nurmi Games
in Turku, also in Finland, when he also broke his own national record with a throw of 89.30m. That was his first competition since winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics in August 2021, becoming the first Indian track and field athlete to do so.
Chopra will next take part in the Stockholm leg of the Diamond League on June 30.
Finland’s Oliver Helander, who won the javelin throw competition in Turku with an effort of 89.83m, did not turn up though his name was entered.
Reigning Asian and world para javelin champion Sandeep Chaudhary, who was also training at the Kuortane Olympic Training Centre along with Chopra, also took part in the competition and finished eighth with a best throw of 60.35m.
Peters is leading the charts this season with his monster throw of 93.07m while winning gold in the Doha Diamond League last month.
Chopra’s 89.30m effort in Turku stands at fifth best of the season.
However, the 90m mark continues to elude the ace athlete though he closely missed it during his spectacular return to action in Turku.
The 24-year-old Indian superstar’s spear had landed 70cm short of the 90m mark, the gold standard of the javelin world.
He was second in a star-studded field behind local athlete Helander, who was the surprise gold winner with a personal best of 89.83m.
The Kuortane Games, where he won gold on Saturday, is a silver-level event in the World Athletics Continental Tour. Chopra is currently based at the Kuortane Olympic Training Centre, around 300km from Turku, ahead of the all-important World Championships (July 15-24) in Eugene in the US.
Written with inputs from PTI