After Anju Bobby George won the bronze medal in the women’s long jump back in 2003, India had gone 29 years without winning a medal at the World Championships until Neeraj Chopra threw 88.13 meters in his fourth attempt.
Neeraj Chopra of India took home the only other medal for his nation at the World Athletics Championships, taking home a historic silver medal in the men’s javelin final. After Anju Bobby George won the bronze medal in the women’s long jump back in 2003, India had gone 29 years without winning a medal at the World Championships until Neeraj threw 88.13m in his fourth attempt.
Neeraj was outside the top three after his first three attempts, but his enormous throw propelled him to second place, just behind Grenada’s Anderson Peters, the reigning world champion, who won the event with a mammoth throw of 90.54 meters. He exceeded the 90-meter mark on every attempt.
Neeraj was always going to be a strong medal contender, but after his first three attempts, those hopes had been somewhat dashed. Neeraj needed just one attempt in the qualifiers to secure his spot in the final. After a foul to start, Neeraj made an 82.38-meter second attempt. Although a sizable dream was present, the throw was more noisy than precise. He improved on it with a respectable throw of 86.37 in his third, but he was still outside the top three, trailing Julian Weber of Germany, Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic, and Peterson.
The fourth attempt, however, was when Neeraj’s situation took a dramatic turn. Chopra took his position after sprinting over and let out a scream. Neeraj knew he had this one right and his assessment couldn’t have been more accurate as he raised his fist in the air. The throw had been slightly better than Vadlejch’s best. Two more fouls were committed during Neeraj’s fifth and sixth attempts, but it made no difference. Vadlejch finished third with a time of 88.03, while Weber placed fourth.
Along with Neeraj, Rohit Yadav, the other Indian competitor in the competition, also withdrew after placing 10th with a best throw of 78.62 metres. Rohit’s initial throw measured 77.96 metres before he slightly increased it to 78.05 metres. Rohit finished with his best performance of the competition in what would turn out to be his third and final attempt, but he would ultimately be disappointed with his performance because he had previously set a season’s and personal best of 82.54m while taking home silver at the National Inter-State Championships last month.
But Neeraj, whose stocks are still rising, was the talk of the country. Neeraj is now a medalist at the World’s, a year after winning a gold medal for India at the Olympics. He didn’t have the best of performances in the previous two editions. He was unable to advance to the final in 2017, and an injury two years later kept Neeraj from having a second chance. But Neeraj’s best chance at a medal finish was always going to be competing in outstanding form. Recent national records were set by Neeraj with throws of 89.30 metres at the Paavo Nurmi games and 86.69 metres at the Kourtane Games.