Neeraj Chopra was unsuccessful in his bid to retain the Diamond League Finals title as India’s Olympic and world champion finished second in the season-ending meet at Eugene, Oregon in the second place.
Chopra, who added the world title at Budapest last month to add a first for India like he did at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, started with a foul before finding his best of the day, 83.80m, in his second attempt.
It was far from Chopra’s personal best of 88.84m and his season’s best of 88.77, but only reflected the largely subdued showing by the six-man field. The 90m which India’s javelin star has been chasing would have been far from the mind as Chopra, with a waist belt for support, never came anywhere close to his best.
Czech Republic’s Jakob Vadlejch won the event. His first attempt of 84.01m effectively nailed it as it turned out, but throwing last at the leader, he produced an 84.24m as the icing on the cake.
Two-time Diamond League champion Vadlejch has been in great form. He had back-to-back wins in Monaco and Zurich but could only finish third (86.67) at the world championships. Vadlejch though has the world lead of the season — 89.51m at the Paavo Nurmi Games in June. Nobody has touched 90m this season.
Oliver Helander of Finland came third after a best effort of 83.74m in his third attempt. He also had a 83.67m in his second try.
Chopra, who hurled the spear to 88.17m to win the world title, didn’t lose the second spot which he gained with his second attempt. But he only managed 81.37m (third try), 80.74m (5th) and 80.90m (6th) after that.
India’s athletic spearhead though has little time to rest as he will have to regain his best for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, starting on September 23. Chopra will be defending his title in China. It was only Chopra’s fifth competition this season – he won three and has come second twice – as he has looked to manage his fitness after a groin injury earlier in the season.
Two-time world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada could not even touch 75m, continuing his struggle this season.