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Missed bronze by 0.03m in 2018, Neeraj Chopra looks for redemption in Diamond League Final

Can the third time be the charm for Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra at a Diamond League Final? History awaits to be made as Chopra will look to redeem himself and claim the Diamond League title in his third Final appearance.

Neeraj Chopra Diamond League

Neeraj Chopra (Source- DiamondLeague/Twitter)


The Bridge Desk

Published: 8 Sep 2022 3:58 AM GMT

History is in want of making as Neeraj Chopra will get ready to make some when he steps into Zurich's Stadion Letzigrund for the Diamond League Final on Thursday, 8th September, as the golden favourite.

The reigning Olympic champion, Neeraj Chopra has practically amassed all the required medals to establish himself as a GOAT in his sport - the javelin throw, save for a medal from the Diamond League - the most elite of the annual track and field competitions on the athletics global calendar.

Although the 24-year-old World Championships silver medallist has qualified for the Diamond League Final on two previous occasions, in consecutive years - 2017 and 2018 - the haunting of a fourth-place finish and a missed medal chance is still something that doesn't sit well on the Neeraj Chopra roster of laurels collected so far.

In his debut appearance at the Diamond League Final in 2017, Chopra could produce a throw of 83.80m and finished seventh, whereas Jakub Vadlejch threw 88.50m and won the Diamond League title. But it was in 2018 that Neeraj Chopra was on the brink of making history when he missed out on a medal by just 0.03m and finished a harrowing fourth on the table, behind Thomas Rohler who threw 85.76m while Chopra threw 85.73m.

Therefore, when Neeraj Chopra steps out tonight and gets ready for his run-up in the 97-year-old stadium in Switzerland's largest city, he will have the past to think about and rewrite and ensure that a medal from Diamond League doesn't remain missing from his cabinet. And to do that, to achieve the perfect redemption arc, Neeraj Chopra is well-equipped and nothing would be sweeter than ending the season on a high by winning the coveted Diamond League title.

In many ways, 2022 has seen Neeraj Chopra being super consistent and on a brilliant roll, showing all the markings of an Olympic champion, humble yet hungry for more constantly. Taking the wise decision to sit out the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 after suffering a groin injury he picked up en route to his silver medal run at the World Championships in July, Chopra made his comeback with a bang at the Lausanne Diamond League, where he stood first in that meeting, in August, throwing 89.08m.

Breaking the National Record twice already this year - first at the season-opening Paavo Nurmi Games where he threw 89.30m and then at the Stockholm Diamond League where he hurled the javelin to a distance of 89.94m, dangerously close to breaching the 90m mark, Chopra would be hungry to achieve that feat this time in the Diamond League Final.

Without World Champion Anderson Peters in the fray, after the Grenada athlete suffered injuries in a freak boat incident, Neeraj's only threat is Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch, the current Olympic silver medallist and a former Diamond League Champion. However, since the Tokyo Games, Neeraj has been finishing ahead of Jakub always and therefore will have confidence on his side going into the Final, on the quest of becoming the Champion and also ending the long wait for India's first medal from the prestigious championships.

The redemption tale is Neeraj's to be written now - and who knows, for Chopra, a third time at the Diamond League Final may just be the charm he needed.

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