The memorable day for Indian athletics. Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra creates history as he became the first Indian athlete to be a world champion at any level when he won a gold medal at the U-20 World Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Saturday evening.
Chopra achieved a new U-20 world record by throwing the javelin a distance of 86.48m. The 18-year-old from Khandra village in Haryana’s Panipat district broke the previous record of 84.69 metres held by Latvian Zigismunds Sirmais by almost two metres.
Chopra’s achievement is also a new national record. He also became the first Indian athlete to set a world record at any level, surpassing his previous personal best of 82.23 set at the South Asian Games earlier this year, which incidentally was the old national record.
“When the spear left my hand on that second throw, I had a feeling that this was a special throw. I don’t think I expected it to go over 86 meters but since the last couple of months, I have worked hard on my fitness, my technique and it all paid off today,” Chopra said after his world record performance.
Chopra who qualified for the final of the U-20 world championships in the first position, threw the javelin to a mark of 79.66 in his very first attempt. This was good enough as second placed South African Johan Grobler flung the javelin 80.59m in his first attempt.
However, Neeraj then hurled the Javelin a massive 86.48m in his second throw which none of his competitors would come close to matching. Chopra threw a modest 78.36m in his third and final attempt.
To put the height of his achievement in perspective, Neeraj Chopra’s throw sees him 8th amongst all throwers this year. It also puts him way ahead of defending Olympic gold medalist Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago, whose best this year is 86.35m.
Indeed Chopra’s effort is better than Walcott’s Olympic winning mark of 84.58 back at the 2012 London Games.
The massive joy of a world level gold will definitely tamper. While his throw was far greater than the Olympic qualification standard of 83m, the last date to meet that standard was July 11.
Indeed, Chopra’s attempt to qualify for the Rio Games is going on since the South Asian Games but had been held back by a back injury which he sustained at the Federation Cup in New Delhi in April.
His performances seemingly dipped as he made his recovery. He was even piped to silver at the Asian Junior Championships last month.