Chopra, who won silver in the last edition, sent his spear to 88.77m in his first attempt in the qualification round on Friday to also qualify for 2024 Paris Olympics. It was his season’s best effort and fourth best throw of his career.
The 25-year-old has won gold medals in Olympics (Tokyo in 2021), Asian Games (2018) and Commonwealth Games (2018), besides becoming the Diamond League champion last year.
It is no secret that the Olympic champion prefers to throw big in his first attempt and having done that, he packed up and left the competition arena without making any further attempt to preserve strength for the all-important final on Sunday.
Chopra did the same in the last edition qualification round in USA with a 88.39m — though he finished second behind eventual champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who threw 89.91m.
The same happened in Tokyo Olympics also, where he won a historic gold.Even though Chopra has competed in just two top events this season — winning title in both Doha and Lausanne Diamond League Meetings, his top class throw here on Friday showed that he’s in great form and rhythm, and on course to win the only yellow colour medal missing in his decorated cabinet.The absence of defending champion Peters in the final will also make Chopra’s job easier though the Grenadian has been struggling for some time. He could not even touch the 80m mark in his three qualifying round throws.
That left only Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic and Julian Weber of Germany from among the throwers Chopra had had gruelling duels in the last two years after Tokyo Olympics as top contenders for the gold on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Vadlejch, who had won silver and bronze in the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 World Championships, had entered the showpiece as the season leader with 89.51m but could only produce a best of 83.50m on Friday. He also admitted that his throws were not “technically ideal”.
Weber, who was a notch up to Chopra at second in the season’s top list ahead of the showpiece, hinted that he had a “bad technique session” on Friday as he could only produce a best of 82.39m.
Moreover, Chopra has beaten both Vadlejch and Weber in Doha and Lausanne Diamond League Meetings.
Peters is out of the reckoning, but Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem has come out of nowhere to be a contender for the gold and to renew his rivalry with Chopra.
Nadeem, who last year beat Peters for the Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham with a 90m-plus throw, qualified for the final at second place behind Chopra with a best of 86.79m.
The 26-year-old Pakistani came straight to the showpiece without competing any top event after an elbow surgery in June. But he can upset Chopra’s calculations. In Birmingham, he had denied Peters the gold with his throw of 90.18m to become only the second Asian to achieve 90m throw.
Nadeem has beaten Chopra in the race of reaching 90m first but the Indian Olympic champion has been victorious in all the events featuring the duo, starting from the 2016 South Asian Games where the Pakistani had won a bronze.
Nadeem was third when Chopra won gold in the 2018 Asian Games. He was eighth in the 2018 Commonwealth Games where Chopra clinched a gold.
Nadeem was fifth in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 where Chopra won gold. Nadeem was again fifth in 2022 World Championships where Chopra bagged a silver. He also finished seventh in the 2017 Asian Championships where Chopra grabbed a gold.
Form and history would give Chopra the advantage but Nadeem cannot be written off.
Not only Chopra but DP Manu (81.31m) and Kishore Jena (80.55m) also made the cut as three Indians qualified for the final of an event in the World Championships for the first time ever.
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