14 April 2018
Gold Coast (Australia). Neeraj Chopra lived up to his billing as he ended Indian athletics gold medal drought at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday. The 20-year-old clinched the gold medal in the men’s javelin throw event with an effort of 86.47m. He finished well ahead of the field with the silver medal going to Australia’s Hamish Peacock with a throw of 82.59m Grenada’s Anderson Peters took bronze with a throw of 82.20
However such was Chopra’s dominance that his three best throws of the competition — 86.47m, 85.50 and 84.78m — would have seen him finish ahead of the second placed Peacock. He had all but secured gold with his first throw of the competition. His mark of 85.50m was just short of his season’s best and it was clear that Chopra would only improve. From then on, the only interest in the competition was whether Chopra could set a new national record. The old one of 86.48 also stood in his name. A foul throw was followed by 84.78 in his third effort and then the mammoth 86.47m mark in his fourth. Chopra subsequently threw 83.48 in his penultimate throw before ending with a foul throw on his final attempt.
It was a medal that had long been expected for Chopra. The 20-year-old from Khandra village, in Haryana’s Panipat district had first broken into the national reckoning when he shattered the National record with a throw of 86.48m at the World Youth Championships in 2016. He had followed up that performance with a throw of 84. To take gold at the Asian Championships the following year. While Chopra would not manage to make the finals at the 2017 World championships, his talent was never in question.
He had shown red hot form at the Federation Cup in March this year, flinging the javelin 85.63m. He would only improve on that performance at the Carrara Stadium at Gold Coast.
The other Indian finalist in the competition, Vipin Kasana, would fall short of a medal, taking fifth place with a best throw of 77.87m. It was a disappointing finish for Kasana who had thrown 78.88m during qualification round and might have expected to improve on that performance in the finals.
While Chopra finished in glory. a spectacular result was recorded in the men’s 1500m race by Jinson Johnson. The 27-year-old, clocked 3:37.86 seconds, to finish fifth in a world class field. He however managed to shatter the 23-year-old mark of 3:38:00 seconds recorded by Bahadur Singh in 1996. The result was a huge personal best for Johnson as well.
The gold medal went to Elijah Monotei Manangoi with a time of 3:34:78 seconds while Timothy Cheruiyot and Jake Wightman took silver and bronze with a time of 3:35:17 seconds and 3:35.97 seconds respectively.
The Indian day on the track though would end in disappointment with the men’s 4x400m team crashing out in the final after Amoj Jacob suffered an injury at the first baton change. The gold medal would go to Botswana with a time of 3.01.78 seconds while Bahamas and Jamaica took silver and bronze with a time of 3:01:92 seconds and 3:01:97 seconds respectively. Indian team of Amoj Jacob, J Suresh, Mohammad Anas and Arokia Rajeev had clocked 3:04:05 seconds during qualification.
The women’s 4x400m relay team too finished out of the medal range clocking 3:33:61 seconds to finish seventh. The gold went to Jamaica who clocked 3:24:00seconds.