THE gold eluded him but with a landmark silver here, Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra still created history one more time, becoming only the second Indian and first male track and field athlete to win a medal in the World Championships.
The 24-year-old Chopra, who had come into the showpiece as a hot medal favourite, produced a best throw of 88.13m, which came in the fourth round, to finish second behind defending champion Anderson Peters of Grenada (90.54m). Legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George was the first Indian to win a medal — bronze — in the World Championships in the 2003 edition in Paris. It was a nervy and unusual start for Chopra, as he opened with a foul throw and had 82.39m and 86.37m to be at fourth after three rounds.
But, to the big relief of the Indian contingent, and the legions of his fans back home, he got his rhythm back as he came up with a big fourth round throw of 88.13m, his fourth career-best effort, to jump to second place, which he held on to till the end. His fifth and sixth throws were fouls.
Chopra had won gold in Tokyo Olympics last year with a second round throw of 87.58m and had just needed a first round effort of 88.39m to qualify for the finals at second place here.
His silver saw India featuring in the medal table of the worlds for the first time in nearly two decades. India were placed at joint 28th in the standings.
‘You’re a true champion’: President Kovind, Prime Minister Modi congratulate Chopra: “YOU’RE a true champion”, President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday said in his congratulatory message to Neeraj Chopra for winning silver medal in men’s javelin throw.
“Neeraj Chopra continues to bring laurels and make the country proud! Heartiest congratulations on a historic sporting accomplishment and winning silver medal in men’s javelin throw at World Athletics Championships. You’re a true champion!,” Kovind tweeted. “A great accomplishment by one of our most distinguished athletes! Congratulations to @Neeraj_chopra1 on winning a historic Silver medal at the #WorldChampionships. This is a special moment for Indian sports. Best wishes to Neeraj for his upcoming endeavours,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.