Neeraj Chopra to begin season with Doha Diamond League on May 10

A file photo of Neeraj Chopra.

A file photo of Neeraj Chopra.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Reigning Olympic and world champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will begin his season in the Doha leg of the prestigious Diamond League series on May 10 in a star-studded field.

The 26-year-old Chopra, who closed his past season with a gold at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China last year, is aiming to defend his Olympic gold in Paris later this year.

Chopra’s compatriot Kishore Jena, who finished fifth in the 2023 Budapest World Championships and won silver in Hangzhou with a personal best of 87.54m, will be making his Diamond League debut at the Qatar capital.

Chopra will be up against his well-known rivals like Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch, who won silver in Tokyo Olympics and bronze in 2023 World Championships and former world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada.

“This year, my personal goal is to defend my Olympic title, but it would also mean a lot to me to break the 90m barrier. The Doha Meeting, with good conditions and a great atmosphere, is a perfect opportunity to get my season off to the best start,” Chopra, who has a personal best of 89.94m, said.

“I’m always overwhelmed by the warm support I get from Indians across the world and in Qatar that is particularly special. I feel privileged that so many people come out to support me and I hope I can repay their faith in me with a good performance.” Others to take the field at the Qatar Sports Club include European champion Julian Weber of Germany (PB 89.54m), Oliver Helander of Germany (PB 89.83m), Qatari record holder Ahmed Bader Magour (PB 85.23m), Lithuanian record holder and World University Games champion Edis Matusevicius (PB 89.17m) and Asian Games bronze medallist Roderick Genki Dean of Japan (PB 84.28m).

Chopra had taken the top spot here in the 2023 season with a throw of 88.67m, ahead of Vadlejch and Peters.

The javelin event has built a reputation for its high quality in recent years and conditions permitting, much will be expected of the key protagonists on May 10.

Peters, who finished third 12 months ago, delivered a national record and the fifth-longest throw in history in 2022 (93.07m), while reigning Diamond League champion Vadlejch, who was runner-up to Chopra in 2023, recorded a personal best in the memorable 2022 meeting with his first ever throw over 90m (90.88m).

Chopra’s continued excellence has raised the bar for Indian athletes.

“Last year my dream was to win the World Championships, but to have three Indian athletes competing in the final – that shows we’re progressing as a nation,” he said.

The Doha Meeting is the third meeting of the 2024 Diamond League series which comprises 15 legs in total across four different continents, starting with Xiamen on April 20 and concluding with a single final across two days in Brussels (September 13-14).

The first two meetings in Xiamen and Shanghai do not have men’s javelin throw as Diamond League event.

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