Neeraj Chopra, 23, became the first Indian javelin thrower to reach the Games’ finals with a great throw of 86.65m, which placed him first in Group A qualifying.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Indian javelin star Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian athlete to win a qualification event. Chopra won the javelin qualification event on Wednesday morning (August 4) and qualified for the final with one “perfect throw,” achieving the highest score of all the competitors.
Chopra, 23, became the first Indian javelin thrower to reach the Games’ finals with a huge throw of 86.65m, which placed him first in Group A qualifying. He made the cut in a matter of seconds, putting the spear well over the direct qualifying mark of 83.50m on his first try.
“This is my first Olympic Games, and I am in great shape. “My warm-up performance wasn’t great, but (in the qualifying round), my first throw had a great angle and was a flawless toss,” Chopra said after the competition.
Chopra, on the other hand, is well aware that the final will be a very different competition, with the world’s finest competing for a podium finish. “It will be a different sensation (in the finals) because it will be my first Olympic appearance. We (we) train hard and are prepared physically, but I also need to mentally prepare. “I’ll have to concentrate on the throw and aim to recreate this (performance) with a higher score,” he explained.
Chopra’s performance on Wednesday will go down in history as one of the best by an Indian athlete at the Olympics. He finished ahead of Germany’s Johannes Vetter, the gold medal favorite and 2017 world champion.
Vetter, who had previously stated that beating Chopra at the Olympics would be difficult, struggled in his first two throws before passing the automatic qualification threshold with an 85.64m final throw.
After his first two throws, the 28-year-old tall German, who came into the Olympics after having seven monster throws of over 90m between April and June, was in a perilous seventh place, but qualified for the final in second place.
The top 12 finishers or those who reach the 83.50m mark qualify for the final on Saturday. Chopra, a farmer’s son from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana who took up athletics to lose weight, exited the javelin stadium after his first throw, having easily qualified for the final.
The reigning Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold medalist had only three international tournaments to prepare for the Olympics, with only one of them – the Kuortane Games in Finland – being of top-class quality, where Vetter won gold and finished third.