Athletics-Chopra savours Diamond League trophy, says 90m mark will follow

·2-min read

By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Breaching the 90m mark would have been the icing on the cake but Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra is far from disappointed having become the first Indian to win the Diamond League trophy in Zurich on Thursday.

The mop-haired 24-year-old fouled his first attempt but secured victory with his second throw measuring 88.44m under overcast conditions at the Letzigrund Stadium.

Czech Jakub Vadlejch finished second behind Chopra like in the Tokyo Olympics with a best attempt of 86.94m, while reigning European champion Julian Weber of Germany came third with 83.73m.

In a video conference with the Indian media on Friday, Chopra said he was not disappointed at falling short of the 90m mark.

"It is a magical mark, it's a barrier, but let's say I hit the 90m mark and do not win a medal, then what is the point?" he said.

"Winning a medal is the main thing, not the distance. I'm rather happy that I have been so consistent this season.

"I am under no pressure to breach the 90m mark. It will happen when it has to."

Chopra, who has a personal best of 89.94m, took heart from his return from a groin injury that kept him out of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The soft-spoken athlete from the north Indian state of Haryana said winning an event with a relatively modest throw demonstrated his ability to master difficult conditions.

"You have elite athletes competing in these events and if conditions are tough and you can handle it better than them, even a throw of 85m can get you a medal.

"Medal is more important than the mark. People don't remember the distance, they remember where you finished on the podium."

The Diamond League trophy wrapped up a memorable season for Chopra, who also became the first Indian to win a silver at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene in July.

(Additional reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill and Toby Davis)