Neeraj Chopra qualifies for javelin throw final, Shivpal Singh out
(Sourced from PTI)
Medal contender Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian javelin thrower to enter the finals of the Olympic Games with a stunning throw of 86.65m in his opening attempt that put him on top of the qualification round in Tokyo on Wednesday. Chopra kept India's hopes of an elusive Olympic medal alive by earning a direct entry into the finals to be held on Saturday.
The 23-year-old sent the spear well past the qualifying mark of 83.50m in his very first attempt. However, Shivpal Singh failed to make the final cut with a below-par best throw of 76.40m, which he came up in his first attempt, to finish a lowly 12th in the Group B qualification which featured 16 athletes and 27th overall out of 32 competitors.
Competing in his first Olympics, Chopra took just a few seconds to make the final round. He topped the Group A contest and the two qualification rounds. "I am at my first Olympic Games, and I feel very good. In the warm-up, my performance wasn't so good, but then my first throw had a good angle and was a perfect throw," Chopra said.
Chopra is, however, under no illusion that the final will be a totally different contest where the world's best will go for a podium finish. "I will need to focus on the throw, and try to repeat this (performance) with a higher score," he said.
Chopra's performance will go down as one of the best performances by an Indian in the Olympics, as he finished ahead of Johannes Vetter of Germany. Vetter, who had earlier said that Chopra will find it tough to beat him in the Olympics, struggled in his first two throws before crossing the automatic qualification mark with a 85.64m final throw.
The 28-year-old towering German, who came into the Olympics after having seven monster throws of 90m-plus between April and June, was lying at a dangerous seventh position after his first two throws but eventually qualified for the final at second overall behind Chopra.
This was Chopra's seventh-best throw and third-best of the season 2021. The earlier six best throws are 88.07m (March 2021; Indian GP-3), 88.06m (Asian Games in 2018), 87.87m (January 2020; ACNW Meeting in South Africa), 87.80m (March 2021; Federation Cup), 87.43m (May 2018, Doha Diamond League) and 86.79 (June 2021; Kuortane Games in Finland).