World Championship: Neeraj Chopra’s eyes on gold medal, Pakistan’s Nadeem can face challenge

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New Delhi: India’s javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will challenge for the gold medal in the final of the World Athletics Championships on Sunday. When Neeraj takes the javelin thrower, he will look to end India’s dismal campaign on a positive note by giving his best shot at the tournament and winning the gold. Last season’s silver medalist Chopra clocked 88.77 in the qualification to book the final and the Paris Olympics.

It was his best throw of the current season and fourth best of his career. The 25-year-old has won gold medals at the Olympics (Tokyo in 2021), the Asian Games (2018) and the Commonwealth Games (2018), besides becoming the Diamond League champion last year. Chopra likes to throw big in his first attempt and after qualification, he will be hoping for the same in the final on Sunday. Chopra had cleared 88.39m in the qualification round of the previous season in the US last year.

However, he finished second behind defending champion Anderson Peters of Grenada with an effort of 89.91m in the final. Chopra has played in only two top tournaments (Doha and Lausanne Diamond League Meetings) this season and won both, but his top class throw here on Friday showed he is in great form and rhythm, and the first Bar is in a good position to clinch the yellow medal at the World Championships.

Chopra’s task will also be a little easier in the absence of defending champion Peters in the final. Peters has been struggling of late and could not even clear the 80m in qualification. Chopra will thus face a tough challenge from Pakistan’s Nadeem along with Jakob Wadlech of the Czech Republic and Julian Weber of Germany. The 32-year-old Wadledge had won silver and bronze at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Championships. He has done this season’s best of 89.51.

Chopra, however, has beaten both Wadlech and Weber in the Doha and Lausanne Diamond Leagues. Arshad Nadeem of Pakistan has also emerged as a contender for gold in this competition. Nadeem Pe won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year with a throw of over 90m, beating Peters. Here he was second to Chopra in qualification with a personal best of 86.79m.

The 26-year-old Pakistani is making a comeback from injury but is ahead of Chopra in the race to reach the 90m mark in the javelin. Chopra is yet to clear the distance of 90 metres. The Indian Olympic champion, however, has beaten the Pakistani in all events since the 2016 South Asian Games.

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