Davinder Singh Kang brought delight to Indian fans in the wee hours of Friday morning by qualifying for the final of the Men’s Javelin Throw at the IAAF World Championships 2017 in London even as big hope Neeraj Chopra narrowly missed out. Davinder came up with 84.22m in his third and final attempt to pass the automatic qualification mark of 83m for a direct entry into Saturday night’s final.
He is the first javelin thrower from India to achieve this feat and the first athlete from the country to progress into the final of any event at this year’s World Championships.
Singh finished seventh overall in the field of 31 competitors out of whom 13 passed the 83m mark.
The 28-year-old, who has a personal best of 84.57m, was consistent throughout his three attempts and began his challenge with an 82.22m throw. He followed it up with an 82.14m attempt before going for the huge 84.22m that resulted in his qualification.
Davinder outshines the Olympic champion
Even the Rio Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and the defending world champion Julius Yego were left trailing in his wake with 83.87m and 83.57m respectively.
Davinder Singh tested positive for marijuana in June but has not been provisionally suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) because it is a specified substance under the world body’s code.
At the Asian Athletics Championships held last month, Davinder produced a throw of 83.29m to clinch the bronze.
Narrow miss for Neeraj
Earlier in the day, the Asian champion Neeraj Chopra, who was India’s biggest bet at this global event, came agonizingly close only to finish 15th overall with his best throw of 82.26m. That throw, which the world junior champion accomplished on his first try, put him in the seventh place in Group A.
If Neeraj hoped to improve on that performance in his next couple of chances, he was in for a rude awakening. He fouled his second attempt, leaving him with one final opportunity where his score nosedived to 80.54m.
The junior world record holder, who has a personal best of 86.48m and season best of 85.63m, could have still made it through had he finished in the top 12. He had to wait to know his fate until the qualification rounds were completed for both the groups. However, eight throwers qualified from Group B along with the five from Group A, dashing the teenager’s hopes.
2017 world leader Johannes Vetter of Germany was the star of the show as he threw the javelin a massive 91.20m. He was the only one in the field to breach the 90m mark and set the record for the best throw ever in a qualification round.