Neeraj Chopra's stunning comeback in last throw, finishes second in Zurich Diamond League
The result ends Chopra's winning streak this season having secured top positions in Doha, Lausanne, and Budapest.
World champion Neeraj Chopra found enough reserves to unleash an 85.71m throw on his final attempt to finish second at the Zurich Diamond League on Thursday. This is the first time the 25-year-old came second in any competition this season.
It was an uncharacteristic event for the newly-crowned world champion Chopra -- used to imposing himself on the field with big early throws -- who began with a modest 80.79m on the chilly night. As Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch and Germany's Julian Weber zoomed to the top, Chopra stormed into the top three from the fifth spot, avoiding a maiden finish outside the top three since May 2018.
The result though ends Chopra's winning streak this season — he won Doha and Laussane legs of the Diamond League before scooping gold in Budapest. Chopra began the competition with a modest 80.79m throw. Former world champion Anderson Peters threw 78.78m while Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch, who took bronze in Budapest, and Germany's Julian Weber fouled their opening attempts. At the end of the first series, Lithuania's Edis Matusevicius took the lead with 81.62m.
Chopra fouled his next two attempts and slipped to the fifth spot but found his groove in the fourth series when he got his first decent throw in, an 85.22m effort that placed him second, leapfrogging Weber and Finland's Oliver Helander and only behind Vadlejch's 85.86m. In fact, the fourth series had Vadlejch, Chopra and Weber all recording their best throws of the night till that point.
Chopra fouled in his penultimate attempt. With Chopra, Vadlejch and Webber still in the hunt for a top finish, the Indian came up with an 85.71m throw on the last try to ensure he ended second. His effort was just 0.15m short of Vadlejch’s leading mark.
‘I am 100 percent OK, but I did not push too much’: Neeraj
After the event, Neeraj said his aim was to respect his body, stay healthy and give his best.
"I feel very good now, because everyone is a little tired after the World Championships - we gave our 100 percent there, but for this competition here my focus was to just stay healthy, and we have to focus now for Eugene (Diamond League Final) and then the Asian Games," Neeraj Chopra said.
"For me, the focus was just to stay healthy and to give my 100 percent in my next competitions," the Indian ace added. "Sometimes we need to read our body. Today, I feel OK, I am 100 percent OK, but I did not push too much. Sometimes, our No. 1 goal is to stay healthy. Today I gave it my best, but still with the focus to stay healthy."