Sensational Neeraj on a different plane

Sensational Neeraj on a different plane

Neeraj Chopra

Star Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra lifted his performance a notch higher in the opening Diamond League meeting of the season with a National record of 87.43 metres but still had to be satisfied with the fourth position.

Neeraj had the earlier national record of 86.48m when he won the gold in the 2016 World Junior Championships in Poland. That mark is also the existing world junior record.

Neeraj, who recently won a gold in the Commonwealth Games with a throw of 86.47m, was up against Olympic champion Thomas Rohler, world champion Johannes Vetter and Andreas Hoffman, all Germans and all in the 90m club.

Rohler won the gold with a best throw of 91.78m which he came up in his second attempt. Vetter was second with 91.56m while Hoffman was third with 90.08m as Germans swept all the top three spots.

It was the first time in history that three throwers were crossing the 90m mark in the same competition. 

Neeraj produced his best in the second round. In the process, Neeraj beat 2017 London World Championships silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic, who finished fifth with a best throw of 86.67m.

Just after winning gold in the Gold Coast CWG, he had said that he would like to be in the 90m club -- the gold standard mark in javelin -- soon. Even Vetter had predicted that Neeraj should be able to throw between 88m to 90m this year itself.

Friday's performance showed that Neeraj has been keeping on improving this season and with that effort, he will move into the top-five in the world.

He began with an 81.17m, then came up with 87.43m before fouling his next three attempts. He had an 81.06m in his sixth and last throw.

Neeraj will next take part in the Eugene (United States) leg of the Diamond League series on May 26 and there again he will be up against Rohler, Vetter, Hoffman and Vadlejch.