Olympic and world champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra failed to defend his Diamond League champion’s title, finishing second with a modest effort of 83.80m in the grand finale at Eugene (US).
The 25-year-old Chopra, who clinched his maiden World Championships gold last month, struggled to produce his best in the winner-takes all Finals of the 13-leg one-day meeting series at the Hayward Field.
He fouled his two attempts and his best effort of the day came in the second throw, with the series reading foul, 83.80m, 81.37m, foul, 80.74 and 80.90m.
This was Chopra’s first below-85m throw of the season. He had qualified for the DL Finals at the third spot. He had won the 2022 DL Finals in Zurich with a throw of 88.44m.
No competitor could touch 85m under 25 degree Celsius temperature and 45 per cent humidity.
Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic became the Diamond League champion for the third time with a best throw of 84.24m which came in his sixth and final attempt. He was leading the six-man field from the beginning following his first round effort of 84.01m.
Vadlejch, who won bronze in Budapest World Championships in August and silver in Tokyo Olympics behind Chopra, had also clinched the DL title in 2017 and 2018. Oliver Helander of Finland took the third spot with a best throw of 83.74m.
Vadlejch won the DL Trophy and $32,000 while Chopra pocketed $12,000 prize money for finishing second. Just a few days after winning the World Championships title, he competed in the Zurich DL leg on August 31 where he finished second behind Vadlejch, who has beaten the Indian in their last two meetings. Chopra will now head to the Hangzhou Asian Games beginning later this month, where he will defend the gold he had won in 2018 in Indonesia.