Newly-crowned world champion Neeraj Chopra was not at his best but still finished second with a final round throw of 85.71m in the men’s javelin event of the Diamond League Meeting in Zurich on Thursday.
The 25-year-old Chopra, also the reigning Olympic champion, produced three legal throws of 80.79m, 85.22m and 85.71m while the remaining three were fouls. He finished behind Jakub Vadlejch (85.86m) of Czech Republic, who had won a bronze in the World Championships.
The Indian superstar, who was unbeaten this season before Thursday, qualified for the Diamond League finals to be held on September 17 in Eugene, USA, with 23 points from three meets. He had won the Diamond League trophy last year.
He had won the Diamond League Meetings in Doha (May 5) and Lausanne (June 30) — his only two competitions before winning a historic gold in the World Championships in Budapest on Sunday with a throw of 88.17m.
During the pre-event press conference here, Chopra had said that he was feeling a bit of pain on his shoulder and back after winning gold in the World Championships. He was not 100% fit during the showpiece event due to a groin strain he had sustained while training in May-June.
Chopra began with a modest 80.79m which put him in the second spot but he fouled the next two throws to slip to fifth at the halfway stage when Germany’s Julian Weber was leading.
But Chopra pulled off 85.22m in his fourth attempt which saw him rise to second. By that time, Vadlejch had taken the lead.
Chopra fouled his fifth throw again bit achieved his best of the day — 85.71m — in his last throw.
In the men’s long jump, Murali Sreeshankar finished with a first round jump of 7.99m.
Sreeshankar, who had failed to qualify for the finals in the just-concluded World Championships in Budapest, led the field after the first round. But, he slowly slipped out of the top three as he could not improve upon his first round jump.
He was third till the end of the third round but slipped to fifth in the fourth and remained there till the end.
Olympic and world champion Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece won gold with a sixth and final round jump of 8.20m.