Neeraj strikes gold at French meet

New Delhi : India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra comfortably won the gold at the Sotteville Athletics meet in France, beating a competitive field which included 2012 London Olympics gold-medallist Keshorn Walcott.

Chopra’s throw of  85.17m put him way ahead of the field, including Moldova’s Andrian Mardare (81.48m) and Lithuania’s Edis Matusevicius (79.31m), who finished second and third respectively.

Waclott of Trinidad and Tobago came up with a throw of 78.26m, which was only enough for fifth place.

The 20-year-old Indian from Panipat had first made headlines when he won the gold in the 2016 World Junior Championship with a record throw of 86.48m.

Earlier, the Commonwealth Games gold-medalist had given a dazzling performance and finished at the fourth spot in the first edition of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League 2018 in Doha breaking the national record with a throw of 87.43 meters.

However, he failed to conjure up the magic in the subsequent edition, which was held in the USA and finished at the sixth spot in the tournament.

In the recently-concluded Rabat Diamond League, Chopra had finished fifth with an effort of 83.32 meters.

The gold at Sottevile Athletics meet will surely give a boost to Chopra for the challenge in 2018 Asian Games as he is the top medal prospect from Indian athletics team.

Meanwhile, Adrian Mardare of Moldova won silver with a throw of 81.48 meters and Edis Matusevicius of Lithuania settled for bronze after an effort of 79.31meters in the tournament.

On a related note, Asian Games are slated to be held from August 18 to September 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

“Well done Neeraj…keep going…Congratulations to Neeraj and  coach Uwe Hohn (former World Record Holder in javelin throw).

Thank you SAI and Govt of India for agreeing to send Neeraj to Finland along with coach for training on recommendation of Athletics Federation of India (AFI),” AFI President Adille Sumariwala tweeted praising the youngster.

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