Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra broke the junior world record on Saturday at the IAAF World under-20 athletics championship in Poland to win the gold medal. The 18-year-old’s 86.48m effort also brought India’s first World record and the first-ever gold in any World athletics championships.
Although Chopra led the 2016 world U20 lists with a breakout 82.23m in February, he was unable to cross the 80-metre mark from then on. There were suggestions that he might have peaked too early, but after a solid opening round throw of 79.66m on Saturday, Chopra arguably produced the biggest moment for India on the world athletics stage. His throw of 86.48m went two meters beyond Latvia’s Zigismunds Sirmais’ five-year-old record of 84.69m.
I was hoping to throw far but I never expected to throw over 86 metres and break the world U20 record."
Speaking to iaaf.org after his record-breaking performance, the 18-year-old said, “I was hoping to throw far but I never expected to throw over 86 metres and break the world U20 record,” said Chopra, who became the first Indian winner in championship history. “My ultimate target was to qualify for the Olympics but I didn’t make it. My other goal was to win at the World U20 Championships.”
Chopra also won the gold medal at the event with his record throw and became the first Indian World Champion in any event in Athletics. The silver medallist - South Africa’s Johan Grobler - in the event was almost six meters behind the Indian, while the bronze medal went to Grenada's Anderson Peters took the bronze with a throw of 79.65m.
Women discus throwers Seema Antil (bronze, 2002) and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze, 2014) had won medals in the World junior championship in the past, while Long jumper Anju Bobby George won a bronze medal the World championships in 2003.