As the Indian camp seeks a ray of hope after a lackluster campaign, Neeraj Chopra stands poised to clinch the gold medal in javelin throw at the World Championships in Budapest on Sunday. Chopra, the reigning Olympic champion, demonstrated his prowess by launching his javelin to an impressive 88.77m in the qualification round, securing his berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics as well. This achievement marked his season’s best effort and the fourth best throw of his career.
Chopra is renowned for his strategy of delivering a powerful throw in his first attempt, and he executed precisely that during the qualification round. By securing his position early on, he strategically withdrew from further attempts to conserve his strength for the final on Sunday.
This approach echoes his previous successes, notably during the last edition’s qualification round in the USA where he registered an 88.39m throw. His signature tactic played a crucial role in his historic gold medal win at the Tokyo Olympics as well.
Despite participating in only two major events this season, Chopra’s exceptional performance in Budapest showcased his excellent form and rhythm. This performance signals his readiness to clinch the elusive gold medal missing from his illustrious collection, which already boasts Olympic, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games gold medals.
The absence of defending champion Anderson Peters in the final provides Chopra with a favorable scenario, although Peters had been facing challenges lately, failing to cross the 80m mark in the qualification rounds. Competitors Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic and Julian Weber of Germany, both familiar opponents for Chopra, remain strong contenders for the gold.
While Vadlejch’s throws fell short of his usual standards, Weber attributed his subpar performance to technical issues. Notably, Chopra had triumphed over both Vadlejch and Weber in the Doha and Lausanne Diamond League Meetings.
An unexpected contender, Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem, has emerged as a potential gold medal challenger. Nadeem, who secured gold at the Commonwealth Games with a 90m-plus throw, qualified for the final with a best throw of 86.79m. Though coming directly from elbow surgery, Nadeem’s history of challenging Chopra’s achievements cannot be overlooked.
While Chopra holds the advantage in terms of form and history, Nadeem’s resilience and determination could present a formidable challenge. With DP Manu (81.31m) and Kishore Jena (80.55m) also securing their spots in the final, this World Championships marks a historic moment for India, with three Indian athletes qualifying for an event final for the first time ever. As the competition unfolds, all eyes are on Neeraj Chopra’s pursuit of the javelin gold, a victory that could elevate Indian athletics on the global stage.