Sunday, October 2nd, 2022

Indian Athletes Gradually Making Mark At World Stage, Says Neeraj Chopra After Diamond League Gold

Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra believes India is ‘gradually’ making a mark at the global stage of track and field and foresees a bright future for the nation’s athletes in prestigious events like the Diamond League. (More Sports News)

The 24-year-old Chopra, considered the trailblazer of Indian athletics’ unprecedented success in recent years, returned from an injury to become the first from the country to clinch title in a Diamond League meet by winning the Lausanne leg on Friday.

“I will be very happy to see more Indian athletes taking part in these competitions and I will be delighted to participate along with my fellow Indian athletes at a stage like this,” Chopra said after his historic feat.

“Avinash Sable and Sreeshankar also participated in the Diamond League this year, so gradually our country is reaching this level and if we will perform better here, then it will help Indian athletics do well at bigger stages.”

Recently, long jumper Murali Sreeshankar and 3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable participated in the Diamond League though they did not finish in top three. Sreeshankar had finished sixth in Monaco earlier this month while Sable ended fifth in Rabat, Morocco in June.

“This win is very important for our country. I feel we shouldn’t be only focusing on the events that happen after four or two years. Competitions like Diamond League Meet or Continental Tour are really good opportunities for athletes.

“It really helps prepare well for the major tournaments because world-class athletes participate here. Performing well in these tournaments will also help Indian athletics,” said Chopra, who claimed the title with a first-round throw of 89.08m – his third career-best effort.

His second throw measured 85.18m before a pass, foul, another pass and 80.04m in the final round. He pocketed USD 10,000 for the win. Before Chopra, discus thrower Vikas Gowda is the only Indian to have finished in top-three in a Diamond League Meet.

Gowda had finished second twice — in New York in 2012 and in Doha in 2014 — and third on two occasions — Shanghai and Eugene in 2015. Chopra had pulled out of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games due to a “minor” groin injury he had suffered while winning a silver during the World Championships last month.

Chopra qualified for the Diamond League Finals in Zurich on September 8, also becoming the first Indian to do so. Despite the win, he remained on fourth spot with 15 points — with the addition of eight points on Friday. The top six after the Lausanne leg qualify for Zurich Finals.

Meanwhile, Neeraj Chopra has gifted his historic Tokyo Olympics gold medal winning javelin to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. The Indian became the first track and field athlete from the country to win an Olympic medal at Tokyo last year.

The museum has a rich collection of 120 years, which includes the rifle of Abhinav Bindra, who became the first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold at Beijing 2008. The museum is managed by the International Olympic Committee’s Heritage team with an objective of securing Olympic legacy.

Bindra, who is also a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, was also present on the occasion. More than 90,000 artefacts, 650,000 photographs, 45,000 hours of videos, and 1.5km of historical archives are managed at the Olympic Museum.

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