Setting a world record of 86.48m, India’s javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal at the IAAF World U-20 Athletics Championship in Bydgoszcz, Poland on Saturday. Doing so, he has become the first Indian athlete to become a world champion at any level.
South Africa’s Johan Grobler (80.59m) won the silver and Grenada’s Anderson Peters (79.65m) won the bronze.
The 18-year-old Neeraj, who hails from Khandra village in Haryana’s Panipat district, broke the previous record of 84.69m which was made by Latvian Zigismunds Sirmais in 2011.
In the first attempt, Neeraj failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics after he threw the javelin to a mark of 79.66 metres. He was surpassed by Grobler who touched 80.59 metres with his opening effort.
However, Neeraj made an excellent comeback in the second attempt and broke the world record with the 86.48 metres throw.
Earlier, in the qualifying record, he had made a throw of 78.20 metres thereby making the cut for the finals of the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championship.
Neeraj bettered his previous record of 82.23m set at the South Asian Games earlier this year, which was also the old national record. He is also ahead of defending Olympic gold medallist Keshom Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago, whose best is 86.35m which was set earlier this year.
India’s ace long jumper Anju Bobby George is the only Indian to win a gold medal in the senior world championship – a bronze in 2003.