Freshly-crowned world champion Neeraj Chopra narrowly missed securing the top position on the podium and had to settle for second place. He achieved this with a final throw of 85.71 meters in the men's javelin event at the Diamond League Meeting held at this venue.
Chopra, aged 25 and also the reigning Olympic champion, managed to deliver three valid throws measuring 80.79m, 85.22m, and 85.71m, while his remaining three attempts resulted in fouls. He concluded the event behind Jakub Vadlejch (85.86m) from the Czech Republic, who had previously earned a bronze medal in the World Championships.
Following the competition on Thursday, the champion thrower mentioned that he was in excellent physical condition but admitted to feeling a bit fatigued after his victorious stint at the World Championships in Budapest.
“I'm feeling exceptionally well now, as everyone tends to be a little fatigued after the World Championships. While we gave our all in Budapest, my primary focus for this competition was to maintain good health. Now, our attention turns to Eugene (Diamond League finals on September 17) and subsequently, the (Hangzhou) Asian Games (beginning on September 23).
The Indian sports sensation, who remained undefeated this season until Thursday, secured a spot in the Diamond League finals in Eugene, USA, accumulating 23 points from three meetings. He had previously clinched the Diamond League trophy last year.
Chopra has qualified for the Diamond League finals in the third position, trailing behind Jakub Vadlejch (29 points) and Julian Weber (25 points). His third-place ranking was due to his absence from the Monaco leg of the Diamond League due to injury concerns, whereas Jakub and Weber participated.
Chopra had triumphed in the Diamond League competitions in Doha (May 5) and Lausanne (June 30), marking his only two appearances before making history by winning gold at the World Championships in Budapest on Sunday with a throw of 88.17 meters.
The gold medalist from the Tokyo Olympics indicated that he didn't push himself too hard in Zurich to ensure he could give his absolute best in the upcoming competitions.
During the pre-event press conference, Chopra mentioned experiencing some discomfort in his shoulder and back after securing gold at the World Championships. He acknowledged that he wasn't at his peak performance during the prestigious event due to a groin strain he had sustained while training in May-June.
“For me, the main objective was to maintain peak health and deliver my utmost in my upcoming competitions. At times, it's crucial to listen to our body signals. Presently, I feel fine; I'm at 100% fitness, but I didn't overexert myself.
“Occasionally, our top priority is simply staying in prime condition. Today, I gave it my all while keeping my focus on maintaining good health. My typical winter training takes place in Europe, which offers easier travel logistics. That's why I spent several months in Loughborough (England) before competing in Budapest this summer,” Chopra added.
Chopra initiated his performance with a modest throw of 80.79m in Zurich, placing him initially in the second position. However, he faltered in his next two throws, sliding down to fifth place at the halfway mark, with Germany's Julian Weber taking the lead.
Nevertheless, Chopra rebounded with a throw of 85.22m on his fourth attempt, propelling him back into the second spot. At that point, Vadlejch had assumed the lead.
Chopra once again fouled his fifth throw but managed to achieve his best performance of the day, measuring 85.71m, on his final attempt.
Chopra's upcoming objective is to secure the Diamond League champion's trophy in Eugene on September 17, a title he had previously claimed last year.
This Diamond League final is an all-or-nothing competition, with no points carrying over from the Diamond League legs held this season. Before the finals in each event, there are four individual Diamond League legs, each offering different prize money.
Chopra earned USD 6,000 for his efforts in Zurich, while the winner received USD 12,000.
The top six athletes in field events qualify for the finals.
The champion of the Eugene finals will receive USD 30,000, while the runner-up and third-place finishers will earn USD 12,000 and USD 7,000, respectively.
In the men's long jump, Murali Sreeshankar finished in fifth place with an initial jump of 7.99m. He also secured a spot in the Diamond League finals, ranking third in the standings with 14 points.
Sreeshankar, who failed to qualify for the finals in the recently concluded World Championships in Budapest, initially led the field after the first round. However, he gradually slipped out of the top three, unable to improve upon his first-round performance.
He maintained his third-place position until the end of the third round but dropped to fifth in the fourth round, where he remained until the conclusion.
Olympic and world champion Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece secured the gold medal with a final jump of 8.20m in the sixth round.”