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Chopra claims gold for India in javelin

Chopra claims gold for India in javelin
Neeraj Chopra won the men’s javelin at Tokyo 2020. (Reuters)

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India claimed their first ever Olympic gold in athletics as Neeraj Chopra won the men’s javelin at Tokyo 2020.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games champion, 23, registered a best throw of 87.58 metres on Saturday to win a historic medal for India.

The Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch won silver with 86.67m, while compatriot Vitezslav Vesely took bronze (85.44m).

“It feels unbelievable,” said Chopra. “It’s a proud moment for me and my country.”

He is only the second Indian to win an individual gold after Abhinav Bindra in the 10m air rifle event at Beijing 2008.

“Your performance has further elevated what has been evident throughout the Games – that our athletes are not only capable of going toe to toe with the best, but are firmly establishing ourselves as the favourites,” Bindra tweeted.

“Our first individual gold might have taken over a century to come, but the comparatively miniscule time taken for you to bring home the second is a solid indication that we, as a sporting nation, are on the rise.”

Chopra’s gold was India’s seventh medal in Tokyo, their best ever Olympic haul having passed the six they won at London 2012.

Hundreds of people watched the javelin final on a screen outside Chopra’s house in Panipat in the northern state of Haryana.

After producing the best throw of 86.65m in qualifying, Chopra threw 87.03m on his first attempt in the final. None of his rivals managed to surpass that mark and Chopra improved his lead with his second attempt.

Johannes Vetter was the only man in the final to have thrown over 90m and has a season’s best of 96.29m, but the German finished ninth with 82.52m. (BBC)