Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra on Friday scripted history as he became the first Indian to clinch a Diamond League Meeting title by winning the Lausanne leg here.
The 24-year-old Chopra, who had pulled out of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games due to a “minor” groin injury he had suffered while winning silver during the World Championships last month, hurled the spear to 89.08m in his first attempt to seal the win in style.
Chopra rested and rehabilitated for a month but it looked like the injury had not happened as he continued his vintage form. The 89.08m throw was his third career-best effort. His second throw measured 85.18m before passing on his third attempt.
His fourth throw was a foul while he again passed his fifth attempt before coming up with 80.04m in the sixth and last round. Only the top three after the fifth round get the sixth throw.
The youngster from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana became the first Indian to win a Diamond League crown.
Before Chopra, discus thrower Vikas Gowda is the only Indian to have finished in top three in a Diamond League Meet. Gowda had completed second twice — in New York in 2012 and in Doha in 2014 — and third on two occasions — Shanghai and Eugene in 2015.
“I am delighted with my result tonight. 89m is a great performance. I am especially pleased as I am coming back from an injury and tonight was a good indicator that I have recovered well,” Chopra said after the event.
“I had to skip Commonwealth Games due to injury and I was a bit nervous. Tonight has given me much confidence to finish the season on a high, with a strong performance in Zurich DL Final.”
Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch finished second with a best throw of 85.88m while Curtis Thompson of the USA was third with a best effort of 83.72m.
Chopra qualified for the Diamond League Finals in Zurich on September 7 and 8, and also became the first Indian to do so. Despite the win, he remained in the fourth spot with 15 points — with the addition of eight points on Friday. The top six after the Lausanne leg qualify for Zurich Finals.
Vadlejch remained in the top spot with 27 points, followed by Julian Weber (19 points) of Germany and world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada (16 points). Weber and Peters did not take part in Lausanne. Peters is recovering from an injury after he was assaulted inside a boat in his country earlier this month.
Thompson and Latvia’s Patriks Gailums also qualified for Zurich Finals.
Chopra also qualified for the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, by breaching the 85.20m qualifying mark. Neeraj Chopra had finished second in the Stockholm leg of the prestigious event behind Peters with a national record throw of 89.94m, just 6cm short of the 90m mark, the gold standard in the world of javelin throw.
In the World Championships in Eugene, USA, he was not in the medal position till the third round but here Chopra was leading from the first throw till the end though the eight-man field was not so strong.