Neeraj Chopra fails to retain Diamond League title, ends second at Eugene

Neeraj Chopra has set such lofty standards for himself that even a respectable second-place finish in the prestigious Diamond League seems like a disappointment. It wasn’t Neeraj Chopra’s day at Eugene on Saturday as he failed to retain his Diamond League title (with a best effort of 83.80m), finishing second behind Czech power thrower Jakub Vadlejch (84.24m).

Vadlejch took the lead in his very first throw before finishing off with an 84.24m as the rest of the field, including Neeraj, never threatened him. Neeraj’s best attempt of 83.80m came in the second round.

Although Neeraj would be disappointed on not retaining his Diamond League title, he will still take home a second-place cheque of approx Rs 10 lakh.

Two-time world champion Anderson Peters looked like a pale shadow of himself in Eugene. The Grenada star thrower has a personal best of 93.07m but could not even cross the 75m mark at the iconic Hayward Field track and field stadium.

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Neeraj’s route to the final has seen him finish on top in two individual Diamond League meetings — in Doha on May 5 and Lausanne on June 30 — and second at the Zurich meet on August 31 (with Vadlejch topping). He also claimed an unprecedented gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, bettering his silver medal from last year.

So far this season, the reigning Olympic and world champion has thrown a season’s best of 88.77m while his personal best is 89.94m, agonizingly close to the hallowed 90m mark.

It must be said that Neeraj’s season isn’t over yet. He will head to Hangzhou for the Asian Games where he will face friendly foe Arshad Nadeem of Pakistan.

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