Javelin throw star Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian in the history of the Olympic Games to qualify for the final at the biggest sporting extravaganza on Wednesday. He hurled the javelin to a distance of 86.65m in his very first throw in the qualification round. Not only did he became the first Indian ever to reach the finals, he did it in some style by topping the qualification round. The previous best performance in the qualification round was of Kamalpreet Kaur who finished second at this Olympics in the women's discus throw qualifiers.
The automatic qualification mark was set at 83.50m and Chopra cleared it with ease in his first attempt. He went 15th in Group A and was one of the few throwers to breach the automatic qualification mark. Such splendid was his effort, that a few handful of Indian officials and supporters sitting at the venue couldn't help but applaud. The video of his throw is doing rounds on the internet and has also been shared by the official page of Tokyo 2020.
Check out the video here:
"I am at my first Olympic Games, and I feel very good. In warm-up, my performance wasn't so good, but then (in the qualifying round) my first throw had a good angle, and was a perfect throw," Chopra said after his event as quoted in an ESPN report.
"It will be a different feeling (in the finals), since it is my first time in the Olympics. Physically we (all) train hard, and are ready, but I also need to prepare mentally," he added.
Lassi Etelatalo of Finland was the only other thrower to qualify with just one throw as he made an attempt of 84.50m. The only other individual to have breached the automatic qualification mark is the prime gold medal contender Johannes Vetter who managed a distance of 85.64m in his third and final attempt.
Chopra is the reigning Commonwealth Games and Asian Games champion and happens to be the only Indian in history to have won a gold in a field event in athletics in both these events. Meanwhile, India's Shivpal Singh failed to advance to the final after a best throw of 76.40m in the qualification round.