Budapest (Hungary): India's Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra won a historic maiden gold medal for India in the World Athletics Championships on Sunday, claiming the gold medal in the men's javelin throw competition here. Chopra, who has been bothered by an injury in the last few months, killed the competition in the Hungarian capital with a massive throw of 88.17 in his second turn, Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem took the silver medal, the first World Championship medal for his country, with a distance of 87.82 while Czech Republic's Yakub Vadlejch retained the bronze he won in Oregon last year, with a distance of 86.67.
The two other Indians in the fray too did their best but could not finish on the podium -- Kishore Kumar Jena, who had to overcome visa problems to reach Budapest, finished fifth with a personal best throw of 84.77 while D.P. Manu finished sixth with 84.14. But India had the most hopes from Neeraj Chopra and the 25-year-old from Haryana did not disappoint as he came up with a superb throw on his second turn and secured his first World Championship gold. Before Sunday, no Indian male or female had won a gold medal in the World Championship with Anju Bobby George claiming bronze in women's long jump at Paris in 2003 while Neeraj Chopra won a silver in Oregon, US, last year.
Chopra, who usually aims to start with a big first throw and had done just that in the qualifying stage with a stunning 88.77 metre, opened with a foul on his first attempt on Sunday. But his next throw straight away catapulted him to the top of the standings as the 25-year-old Tokyo Olympic gold medallist from Haryana hurled the spear to 88.17 to take the lead. Germany's Julian Weber was placed second with 85.79 on his second attempt while Yakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic was placed third with 84.18m throw in his second attempt.
Chopra could manage only 86.32 metre in his third attempt while Pakistan's Arshad Nadeem jumped into the fray with a superb throw of 87.82 metre on his third turn. Nadeem, who had surgery on his shoulder earlier this year following an injury, started with a gentle loosener of 74.90m and followed that up with 82.81m before unleashing a rip-roaring 87.82 in his third turn, a season-best for the Pakistan thrower.
India's D.P. Manu also came up with his best effort of the first half of the competition with 83.72m in his third attempt and was placed fifth while Kishore Kumar Jena came up with 82.82m in his second attempt to remain in seventh position.
Chopra could manage only an 84.62m throw in his fourth attempt while Nadeem came up with 87.15m while Julian Weber of Germany remained in the third position thanks to his 85.7 attempt.
Arshad Nadem made a final attempt in the sixth round with a big one but it was still short of what he wanted and Chopra sealed the gold medal.
It has been an indifferent year so far for Neeraj Chopra in 2023 as he has participated in only two competitions with the 88.67m at Doha Diamond League, his best for the season.