Neeraj Chopra, the Olympic champion javelin thrower, will begin as the favorite in the coveted Diamond League Finals on Thursday in Zurich when he will attempt another remarkable performance. Chopra won the Lausanne leg of the Diamond League series to make an impressive comeback from a one-month injury layoff and earn a spot in the two-day finals. He accomplished a first by winning a Diamond League meet championship. A slight groyne injury he had had during his silver-winning performance at the World Championships in the United States in July prevented him from competing in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, which were held from July 28 to August 8.
Upon his return, the 24-year-old Indian superstar instantly returned to form, throwing the spear to 89.08 meters on his first try to secure the victory in style in Lausanne on July 26. It looked like the injury had not happened as he produced his third career-best effort.
The young man from the Haryana hamlet of Khandra will aim for his first Diamond League Finals victory. In 2017 and 2018, he also earned a spot in the Finals, placing seventh and fourth, respectively.
The Diamond League, structured like a championship, consists of 32 Diamond Disciplines. At the 13-series event, competitors collect points to advance to the final of their respective disciplines.
The “Diamond League Champion” will determine who wins each Diamond Discipline in the Final.
World champion Anderson Peters of Grenada will not compete in this six-man javelin throw event because he is recovering from injuries sustained in an assault on a boat that occurred in his nation last month. Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic, an Olympic silver medalist, will be Chopra’s greatest competition.
Vadlejch had a best throw of 85.88m at Lausanne. He has thrown more than 90 meters this season. Chopra qualified in the fourth slot with 15 points, while he qualified with the highest points (27), qualifying for the Zurich Finals. The Diamond League’s top six finishers advance to the Zurich Finals.
Since taking home a gold medal at the Olympics in Tokyo in August of last year, Chopra has faced off against Vadlejch four times this season, and the Indian has won all those matches.
When Chopra placed second in the Stockholm Diamond League (June 14) and the Paavo Nurmi Games, Vadlejch was sixth and fourth, respectively (June 30). Vadlejch earned a bronze medal before the duo competed again, while Chopra took home silver at the World Championships in Eugene in Lausanne on July 26.
However, Vadlejch is a more seasoned competitor than Chopra, having won the Diamond League Final on two separate occasions (in 2016 and 2017), as well as two World Championship medals (silver in 2017 and a bronze in 2022) and a Tokyo Olympic Games silver. In May, when earning silver in the Diamond League leg in Doha, he set a season’s and personal best of 90.88m.
A wild card to the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, will be given to the champion of each Diamond discipline at the Final in addition to a Diamond Trophy and USD 30,000 in prize money.
Chopra, though, has already earned a spot at the World Championships thanks to his winning throw in Lausanne, which exceeded the required 85.20 meters.
Vikas Gowda, a discus thrower, is the only Indian to have placed in the top three in a Diamond League Meet before Chopra. Gowda placed second twice, once each in New York (2012) and Doha (2014), and third once each in Shanghai and Eugene (2015).