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Athletics

Neeraj Chopra battles 'tough conditions' to clinch historic silver

Wind blowing against his throwing arc and a hamstring niggle which showed up at the wrong time were the challenges Neeraj Chopra faced in the World Athletics Championships final.

Neeraj Chopra battles tough conditions to clinch historic silver
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Neeraj Chopra reacts after his throw in the World Championships final (IAAF)

By

Dipankar Lahiri

Updated: 24 July 2022 5:00 AM GMT

Neeraj Chopra put on a strap on his hamstring before his fifth throw in the World Athletics Championships final on Sunday en route to his historic silver medal - the first-ever won by an Indian. This niggle showing up at the wrong time was one of two major challenges India's star athlete faced on the big day, the other being strong headwind.

"The wind was blowing from the front at the stadium, making it very challenging for me. I'm satisfied with the eventual result but I got to learn a lot from competing in these conditions," Neeraj said in a press conference after the final.

Gold medallist Anderson Peters breached the 90m mark thrice but no one else could go beyond Neeraj's 88.13m throw that came on his fourth attempt.

On being asked how the Grenadian found it easy on such a difficult day, Neeraj replied with a smile: "It may have seemed easy to you but he put in a lot of effort. It was challenging for everyone today. It was a different sort of challenge in the Olympics, so challenging for him that he couldn't get into the final. It is not nice to compare athletes like this, everyone's body is different and they react differently."

His coach Klaus Bartonietz concurred about the wind. "This is a wonderful stadium but it's also equally complicated. Winds blow from different directions and that poses a challenge," he said.

Neeraj let out a roar and showed a thumbs-up to the cameras after his fourth throw - the 88.13m one which put him in the medal places after an early stutter - but soon realised he had done some damage to his hamstring in the process.

"I did feel a bit on my thigh after my fourth effort. I wasn't able to put in that much effort and strapped my thigh. I will know by morning how it feels or if it's something to worry about," he said about his injury.

Neeraj won India's first-ever silver at the Worlds but he said his biggest happiness was that so many other Indian athletes also qualified for the finals this time. Five others - Rohit Yadav, Annu Rani, Eldhose Paul, Avinash Sable and M Sreeshankar made it to the finals at this edition of the Worlds, making this India's best-ever showing in the history of the event.

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