Neeraj Chopra began his Diamond League title defence with a win in the first leg but the Olympic champion javelin thrower said he will push himself more in the upcoming competitions this season. Chopra, who had bagged the 2022 Diamond League final trophy last year, won the season-opening first round with a best throw of 88.67m to beat a star-studded field at the Qatar Sports Club on Friday night.
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“It was a very hard win, but I’m happy, it’s a really good start for me,” Chopra said. “This season I’ll stay fit and consistent and I’ll try to do my best in next competitions. I plan to stay fit and do more than I can,” added Chopra, who has his eyes set on breaching the coveted 90m mark.
Chopra will feature in the Ostrava Golden Spike event in Czech Republic, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold level meet, on June 27, according to the world body. Chopra’s current training base is at Antalya, Turkey. “I hope to come in the first place in the next competitions and to keep consistency during this season,” the Indian superstar said.
Neeraj Chopra wins! __
With a thunderous throw of 88.67m, he dominated the Doha Diamond League and brought glory home. A true champion who has made the nation proud again.
Congratulations Neeraj on this stupendous win! _ pic.twitter.com/WqtkG4EdNs
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) May 5, 2023
Chopra’s best throw came in his first try which is his fourth best effort. The Olympic champion had ample support as his compatriots came out to cheer him. “Lot of people came to support me and they are really happy. Sometimes it’s really hard because we have a big country and people have hopes, and now more athletes from my country join me in the Diamond league and other competitions.
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“I’m lucky people have faith in me, I feel really good. This Doha meeting is great, the first one every year,” he added.
Despite a quality field that included the likes of reigning world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada and Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic, the throws were quite underwhelming compared to last year when both Peters and Vadlejch sent the spear beyond 90m.
Chopra had even acknowledged the reputation of Doha giving 90m-plus throws during the pre-event press conference on Thursday. But strong headwind on Friday made it challenging for the javellin to go the distance.
“It was challenging for all athletes, but I’m still satisfied with my result. It’s a great atmosphere. Today was challenging, next time I’ll do more throws,” Chopra said.
Peters, who had won the event here last year with a monster throw of 93.07m, finished third with a modest best throw of 85.88m. “The wind was a bit strong, I was hoping we would get a tailwind. It was a good competition because the top guys are here,” Peters said.