The young Javelin thrower from India, Neeraj Chopra created history to become first world champion in athletics from his country. However, he missed out on the chance of qualifying for the Rio Olympics, as the championship concluding date exceeded the last date to meet the requisite standard.

Neeraj Chopra, 18, becomes the first Indian world champion in Javelin Throw in athletics. He won a gold medal at the U-20 World Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Saturday23rd creating history and becoming the first Indian athlete to become a world champion at any level. He created a new U-20 world record by throwing the javelin a distance of 86.48m.

The new world record for U-20 world record  was created by him when he threw the javelin at a distance of 86.48m.He broke the old mark of 84.69 metres held by Latvian Zigismunds Sirmais by nearly two metres.

Neeraj had qualified for the final of the U-20 world championships and was holding the first position. He threw the javelin to a mark of 79.66 in his first attempt, against South Africa’s Johan Grobler who threw at a distance of 80.59m. This attempt has put him ahead of defending Olympic gold medalist Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago, whose best this year is 86.35m and Walcott’s Olympic winning mark of 84.58 back at the 2012 London Games. Chopra’s world record had been thrown in his second throw of the javelin finals. And while he knew it was a big throw, but he could have hardly predicted how massive it would be.

“It took a few minutes to determine how far I had thrown the javelin because it went a lot further than the white line that marked the 80m mark in the stadium. I knew the moment it left my hand that it was going to be a good throw. But I was expecting to throw around 83m. So I immediately turned around and gave a thumbs up to Calvert sir and the rest of the Indian team in the stands. When they finally measured it I couldn’t believe it,” said the new U-20 world champion, Neeraj.

Neeraj belongs to Khandra village in Haryana’s Panipat district. He has also become the first Indian athlete to set a world record at any level and has also improved and broke his older best record of 82.23 made at the South Asian Games earlier in 2016, which co-incidentally was the old national record.

Unfortunately, he has missed out on the chance of qualifying for the Rio Olympics. While his throw was far greater than the Olympic qualification standard of 83m, the last date to meet that standard was July 11, 2016. He had been trying to attempt for the qualification of Rio Olympics but due to his back injury suffered at the Federation Cup in New Delhi in April, 2016, he missed the last date.

by Ashwani Srivastava

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