A certain popular, parental bull-headedness drives our schoolboys into cricket academies which engender dreams of Indian Premier League millions, if not a berth in the international game.
Neeraj Chopra failed to defend his title as he finished second in the javelin throw event with a 83.80 m throw at the Diamond League 2023 Final in Eugene, Oregon.
Neeraj, the first Indian to win a Diamond League Trophy last year, lost his title to Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch, the 2016 and 2017 Diamond League champion, who won his third title with a best throw of 84.24 m at Hayward Field .
None of the athletes crossed the 85m mark in Eugene. Neeraj, who holds the national record of 89.94m, had won a world championship silver medal at the same venue last year with an 88.13m effort.
Reigning Olympic and world champion Neeraj began with a foul on his first attempt. The 25-year-old got off the mark with an 83.80m mark with his second throw and jumped to the second spot behind Jakub Vadlejch, who started with an 84.01m effort.
An 81.37m throw on the third attempt followed by another foul from the Indian enabled Vadlejch to keep the lead despite the latter managing just one legal throw from the first four attempts.
Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Vadlejch logged his best mark of the night with the final attempt to defeat the Indian for the second time this year. Vadlejch had also beaten him at the Zurich Diamond League last month.
Finland’s Oliver Helander came third with an 83.74m throw.
Neeraj’s marks at Diamond League 2023 Final in Eugene: No mark, 83.80m, 81.37m, No mark, 80.74m, 80.90m
Two-time world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada finished sixth with a 74.71m throw.
On the way to the final in Eugene, Neeraj won the Doha and Lausanne legs of the 2023 Diamond League series but had to settle for the second position in Zurich.
He qualified for the Diamond League Final with 23 points from three meetings while Jakub Vadlejch, who competed in all four qualifying events, topped with 29 points.
European Games champion Julian Weber came second in the Diamond League series with 25 points but missed the final due to injury.
The Diamond League Final was Neeraj’s penultimate outing this season. His next goal is to defend his title at the Asian Games, starting in Hangzhou later this month.