Bengaluru/Doha, May 5: India's Neeraj Chopra broke the national record en route to finishing a creditable fourth in the International Association of Athletics Federation's (IAAF) Diamond League season opener in Doha as the javelin throw event lived up to its pre-event hype with three men throwing over 90M.
Competing in a strong field which included the likes of Germany's Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and compatriot and world champion Johannes Vetter, Neeraj cleared a distance of 87.43M in his second attempt to better his earlier national mark of 86.48M.
What a special performance by @Neeraj_chopra1 ! The CWG Gold medalist finishes in 4th place after setting a new National Record and Personal Best#DohaDL #RoadToTheFinal #BetterEveryday pic.twitter.com/YpT7WthCbp— JSW Sports (@jswsports) May 4, 2018
Neeraj had set the earlier national record of 86.48M -- also the current world junior record -- when he won a gold medal in the 2016 World Junior Championships in Poland.
Last year's IAAF Doha Diamond League winner Rohler defended the title with a best throw of 91.78M which came up in his second attempt. It was 22cm higher than compatriot Vetter, who finished second with 91.56m while Andreas Hofmann made it a Germann 1-2-3 by sending the spear to a distance of 90.08M.
The 22-year-old, who won gold in the recent Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, was never undaunted by the opposition, who all are in the 90M club.
His gritty performance at the Qatar Sports Club athletics track also saw him beat 2017 World Championships silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic, who finished fifth with a best attempt of 86.67M.
Beginning with a 81.17M, Neeraj came up with 87.43M before fouling his next three attempts. He had a 81.06M in his sixth and final throw.
"Did my personal best throw today of 87.43 m and also a new Indian National record at DOHA diamond league," tweeted Neeraj after his best effort.
Soon after winning gold in Gold Coast, he had said that he would like to be in the 90M club -- the gold standard mark in javelin -- soon. Even Vetter had predicted that the Indian should be able to throw between 88M to 90M this year itself.
Next up for Neeraj is the Eugene leg of the IAAF Diamond League series in the United States on May 26, where he will be once again up against the likes of Rohler, Vetter, Hofmann and Vadlejch.
(With IAAF/Diamond League inputs).