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Neeraj Chopra wins second straight Diamond League title in Lausanne

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(PTI): Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra clinched the prestigious Diamond League title for the second consecutive time by throwing his spear to 87.66m on Friday but the coveted 90m mark eluded the star Indian javelin thrower yet again.

Coming back from a one-month injury lay-off, Chopra’s title-winning performance at the Lausanne leg in challenging conditions was below his own top-10 efforts but he still stamped his authority in the prestigious One-day meet.

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The 25-year-old Chopra, who had skipped three top events due to a muscle strain he sustained last month, had won the season-opening Diamond League in Doha on May 5 with his fourth career-best throw of 88.67m.

Chopra, who usually produces his best in early rounds, had to wait till his fifth attempt to lead the field. He was at the second spot till the end of the fourth round.

“I was feeling a bit nervous coming back from an injury. It was a bit cold here tonight. I am still far from my best, but I feel it is getting better,” Chopra said after his win.

It was a cloudy day with the temperature during the men’s javelin throw event recording 17 degree celsius and humidity at 78 percent.

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“I am relieved it is coming together well for me. A win is a win and I will take that happily.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to congratulate the champion athlete on his latest achievement.

“Congratulations to @Neeraj_chopra1 for shining at the Lausanne Diamond League. Thanks to his extraordinary performances, he has finished at the top of the table. His talent, dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence is commendable,” PM Modi tweeted.

Chopra began with a foul and then had 83.52m and 85.04m throws. He had another foul in the fourth round before coming up with his title-winning throw of 87.66m next. His sixth and last throw was 84.15m.

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Germany’s Julian Weber was second with a best throw of 87.03m, while Tokyo Olympics silver medallist and season-leader Jakub Vadlejch (SB: 89.51m) of the Czech Republic was third with an 86.13m effort.

Reigning world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who has been struggling for form, was fifth with a best throw of 82.23m.

Chopra had won the Lausanne leg in August last year also for his maiden Diamond League title.

A month later, he became the first Indian Diamond League champion after winning the 2022 grand finale in Zurich.

The Indian superstar, who has a personal best of 89.94m, cemented his top spot in the Diamond League standings with 16 points, followed by Vadlejch (13 points) and Weber (12 points).

Following the Lausanne event, men’s javelin throw will also be a part of the roster in the Monaco and Zurich legs on July 21 and August 31 respectively before the Diamond League grand finale in Eugene, USA, on September 16-17.

On May 29, Chopra had issued a statement, informing about his injury. He pulled out of the FBK Games on June 4 at Hengelo (the Netherlands), Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland on June 13 and Ostrava Golden Spike meet in Czech Republic on June 27.

All the three meets were World Athletics Continental Tour gold events.

But he did not miss any Diamond League competition as the subsequent legs in Rabat, Rome, Paris and Oslo did not have men’s javelin events on the roster.

In the men’s long jump, India’s Murali Sreeshankar finished fifth with a below-par jump of 7.88m which he achieved in the third round.

The 24-year-old Sreeshankar, who had clinched the third spot in the Paris leg on June 9 for his maiden Diamond League podium finish, had produced a career-best 8.41m during the National Inter-State Championships in Bhubaneswar earlier this month.

LaQuan Nairn of Bahamas, who beat Sreeshankar for the gold in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, took the top spot with a third round jump of 8.11m.

Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece was second with 8.07m effort while Yuki Hashioka of Japan was third with a jump of 7.98m.

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