Neeraj Chopra's unbeaten run in 2023 came to an end as he finished second at the Zurich Diamond League on Friday morning. Neeraj was back in action less than three days after winning gold at the World Athletics Championships
The 25-year-old Olympic champion's best attempt of 85.71m saw him miss the top spot by just 15cm as Jakub Vadlejch, who won bronze at the Worlds last week, took top honours.
Neeraj, who became the first Indian to win a World Championships gold, had to dig deep at Zurich. He began the event with an 80.79m throw and was unable to better that over the next two rounds as he fouled in his second and third attempts
He was placed fifth at the end of the third round of throws - a position you don't usually associate with Neeraj.
The 25-year-old then dug out a huge 85.22m throw in his fourth effort to climb to second in the standings and earned himself a shot at the #1 spot. Only the top-3 athletes get the final throw [sixth attempt] in Diamond League events.
Vadlejch led the field with an 85.86m throw and could not go past that in his final attempt, while Neeraj recorded his best throw of the evening (85.71m) but fell agonizingly short. Julian Weber, the 2023 European Games champion, finished third with an 85.04m throw.
Neeraj, the reigning Diamond League champion, has already qualified for the finals by virtue of having won the Doha and Lausanne editions this year.
"I feel very good now, because everyone is a little tired after the World Championships - we gave our 100% there, but for this competition here my focus was to just stay healthy, and we have to focus now for Eugene and then the Asian Games. For me, the focus was just to stay healthy and to give my 100% in my next competitions
Sometimes we need to read our body. Today, I feel okay, I am 100% okay, but I did not push too much. Sometimes, our number one goal is to stay healthy. Today I gave it my best, but still with the focus to stay healthy," Neeraj said after the event.
Sreeshankar finishes fifth In the men's long jump, Sreeshankar Murali bounced back from a disappointing World Athletics Championships campaign to finish fifth. This was Sreeshankar's second fifth-place finish in the Diamond League this year - he had become the third Indian to finish at the top-3 of a Diamond League event when he finished third at the Paris edition and subsequently finished fifth in Lausanne.
The Indian, who had failed to make it to the final at the Worlds, got off to a strong start with a 7.99m jump. His next two attempts read 7.96m and a foul and he was pipped to the top spot by Olympic and World champion Miltiadis Tentoglou's 8.04m effort. Jamaica's Tajay Gayle, who won bronze at last week's Worlds, went atop the standings with an 8.07m effort in his fourth.
Sreeshankar produced a 7.96m jump in his fourth and a 7.93m effort in final attempt to finish fifth. Tentoglou, who trailed Gayle until the end, saved his best for last as he came up with an 8.20m jump in his final attempt to take home the win.