Reigning Olympic, world and Asian Games javelin champion Neeraj Chopra – India’s national record holder with a best of 89.94m – will make a welcome return to Doha Diamond League Meeting on May 10.
Former world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada and Olympic and world medallist Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic will also participate. Chopra is an inspirational figure and has blazed a trail for Indian athletes throughout his career to date. He was the first Indian track and field athlete to set a world record (under-20) when he threw 86.48m to win the 2016 World U-20 Championships, which was also the first time an Indian athlete had won a global track and field title.
He won javelin gold at the 2018 Asian Games, the first Indian athlete to do so, and made history in Tokyo when he became the country’s first Olympic gold medallist in track and field. That trend continued at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest when he became the first athlete from India to strike gold. Chopra set the tone for his 2023 gold medal-winning summer with victory in the opening meeting of the Diamond League in Doha ahead of Vadlejch and Peters (88.67m). The javelin event has built a reputation for its high quality in recent years and conditions permitting, much will be expected of the key protagonists on May10.
Peters, who finished third 12 months ago, delivered a national record and the fifth-longest throw in history in 2022 (93.07m), while Diamond League champion Vadlejch, who was runner-up to Chopra in 2023, recorded a personal best in the memorable 2022 meeting with his first ever throw over 90m (90.88m).
The trio will be joined at the Qatar Sports Club by European champion Julian Weber (Germany) – PB 89.54m; World Championships finalist Oliver Helander (Finland) – PB 89.83m; Qatari record holder Ahmed Bader Magour – PB 85.23m; Asian Games silver medallist and World Championships finalist Kishore Jena (India) – PB 87.54m; Lithuanian record holder and World University Games champion Edis Matusevicius – PB 89.17m; Asian champion and Asian Games bronze medallist Roderick Genki Dean (Japan) – PB 84.28m; Moldovan record holder and Olympic finalist Andrian Mardare – PB 86.66m; and Pan American Games champion Curtis Thompson (USA) – PB 87.70m.
Chopra’s continued excellence has raised the bar for Indian athletes and for the first time in his country’s history, he was joined in the World Championships final by two of his teammates. “Last year my dream was to win the World Championships, but to have three Indian athletes competing in the final – that shows we’re progressing as a nation,” said the 26-year-old.
“This year, my personal goal is to defend my Olympic title, but it would also mean a lot to me to break the 90m barrier. The Doha Meeting, with good conditions and a great atmosphere, is a perfect opportunity to get my season off to the best start. I’m always overwhelmed by the warm support I get from Indians across the world and in Qatar that is particularly special. I feel privileged that so many people come out to support me and I hope I can repay their faith in me with a good performance.”
The Doha meet has also attracted big names in other field events. Olympic, world and European long jump champion Miltiadis Tentoglou has confirmed he will make his first time appearance, as he aims to continue his title-winning form in 2024.
The 26-year-old Greek athlete – who retained his world indoor title with victory in Glasgow on March 2 – boasts a personal best of 8.60m from 2021 and is so far unbeaten this year. The 2022 Diamond League champion is hoping to regain his long jump title this season after Swiss rival Simon Ehammer claimed the Diamond Trophy in Eugene last year.
The 2022 Diamond League champion said: “I was in Doha for the World Championships in 2019, but I’ve never competed at the Diamond League meeting. The conditions in Doha are perfect and there is always a little wind, so I’m hoping to start strong in my 2024 outdoor season.
Meanwhile, Olympic and world pole vault champion Katie Moon (USA) will take on fellow world champion Nina Kennedy (Australia) and newly-crowned world indoor champion Molly Caudery (Britain) at the Doha Meeting.
Moon – ranked fifth all-time with a best height of 4.95m – famously shared global gold with Commonwealth champion and Australian record holder Kennedy (4.91m) at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest after an enthralling contest failed to separate them. They were subsequently shortlisted for the 2023 International Fair Play Award as a result of their actions.
The Doha leg is the third meeting of the 2024 Diamond League. The series comprises 15 meetings in total across four different continents, starting with Xiamen on April 20 and concluding with a single final across two days in Brussels (September 13-14). Each of the 14 series meetings will be broadcast globally in a live two-hour programme.
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