India's Neeraj Chopra didn't take long to dispense with nerves (if there ever were any) with a jaw-dropping 87.03 in his first throw of the night! Announcing his intention straight away, he had topped his 86.65 to get to the final, which was by far the best throw of the Heats. To throw an 87.03 to kick things off already gave him the early advantage. Neeraj's competitor, Johannes Vetter, the man to challenge for gold could only manage an 82.52 in his first attempt. The man from Panipat led the field after the first round with only Germany's Julian Weber with a season's best 85.03 behind Neeraj.
Neeraj then went one step further and improved his first throw by 0.5m. He raised his arms in celebration almost immediately after his second attempt. He knew. He knew he was in medal contention already. The spear raced its way to an 87.58! Johannes Vetter slipped and fell and got red-flagged on his second attempt.
Compared to his first couple of throws, Neeraj's third one was a little disappointing. He got 76.79 but having secured the top 8 positions already by sitting atop the table, there was no reason to worry. We were expecting a storm in Tokyo but it arrived in another form – Johannes Vetter, the hot-favourite to win gold medal, the man who has breached the 90m mark several times in his career, failed to make it to the top 8.
That left Neeraj extremely close to gold going into the final three throws of the night! In his first throw of the next round, the 23-year-old got his technique wrong and threw the javelin higher than usual. He walked out of the sector and got that throw disqualified, though still in the gold medal position. In the fourth round, Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch moved up the ladder and occupied the silver medal position with a mammoth 86.67. This was his season's best throw.
Neeraj also didn't get enough juice in his fifth throw and walked out again to get the throw disqualified. By the time, the 23-year-old came out to the track to launch his final throw of the night, he had already secured the gold medal. He had also broken India's long-elusive search for an Olympics medal.
And racing to the applause of the Indian contingent and the supporters, he enjoyed his moment in the limelight. He wouldn't have had a more celebratory throw than that in his career. It didn't matter what the distance was. If Neeraj had been two separate athletes, he'd have won both gold and silver with his first two throws of the night.
In almost poetic fashion, where several Indian athletes have struggled to get going in the final, Neeraj defied history and led from start to finish, becoming the first individual medallist for the country since Abhinav Bindra in 2008.
More updates to follow.