On the final day, final event of competition for Indian contingent at Tokyo Olympics, all eyes will be on javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra – touted as one of India’s strongest medal chances.

It feels fitting that Chopra will draw the curtains on India’s Olympic campaign. The 23-year-old has steadily become of India’s best athletes in the last few years and there are hopes that he can end the wait for an elusive Olympic medal in track and field. This hope is not unfounded, but instead based on his consistent performance and improving numbers. The fact that some of the main competitors fell by the wayside during qualification will only add to the expectations.

(The final starts at 1630 IST on Saturday)

Updates on our daily live blog

Qualification summary for Men's Javelin

Name Group Result Note
IND CHOPRA Neeraj A 86.65
GER VETTER Johannes A 85.64
PAK NADEEM Arshad B 85.16
GER WEBER Julian B 84.41
ROU NOVAC Alexandru Mihaita A 83.27 SB
CZE VESELY Vitezslav A 83.04 SB
BLR KATKAVETS Aliaksei B 82.72
MDA MARDARE Andrian B 82.70
SWE AMB Kim A 82.40 SB
Throwing order for the final

Indeed, this season Chopra has the second best throw of all the finalists in the field, behind only the red-hot favourite Johannes Vetter, the German who has been throwing 90-plus for fun.

As per World Athletics, “Vetter is the only man in the world to have thrown beyond 90 metres in the past 24 months. In fact, he has done so 18 times – including a record streak of seven competitions between April and June this year. The 2017 world champion from Germany even threatened the world record last year, throwing 97.76m in Silesia to move to second on the world all-time list.”

But the overwhelming favourite did not have the best of qualification rounds where, of course, it doesn’t matter where one finishes as long as a place in final is confirmed.

Despite reduced competition and being stuck in India during lockdown, Chopra has reached best of 88.07 in 2021 – an effort that would have put him in the medals at the last Olympics. Among the finalists, that is the second best this year.

Archive: Neeraj Chopra on the lack of competition before Olympics

While SB is a decent indication of form, there are athletes in the list who have hit 88 and 89 in their careers and javelin has the tendency to throw up plenty of surprises on the night of the final. The likes of Julian Weber and Czech Republic’s Vitezslav Vesely, Jakub Vadlechj have gone 88-plus in their careers. The latter will have world record holder Jan Zelezny in their coaching corner as well.

Best Season Best throws among finalists

NOC Athlete Season Best (2021)  Personal Best
GER VETTER Johannes 96.29 97.76
IND CHOPRA Neeraj 88.07 88.07
MDA MARDARE Andrian 86.66 86.66
PAK NADEEM Arshad 86.38 86.38
BLR KATKAVETS Aliaksei 85.10 86.05
BLR MIALESHKA Pavel 85.06 85.06
GER WEBER Julian 84.95 88.29
CZE VADLEJCH Jakub 84.93 89.73
FIN ETELATALO Lassi 84.50 84.98
ROU NOVAC Alexandru Mihaita 83.27 86.37
CZE VESELY Vitezslav 83.04 88.34
SWE AMB Kim 82.40 86.49
Clarification: Table updated to reflect SBs from qualification

Another cause for India’s hopes to go stronger is the field in the javelin throw at Tokyo, or rather who is not in the field.

Due to a combination of factors – the heat in Tokyo being a crucial one, as well as the timing of the qualification Group B – the final will be missing many prominent names who have had among the best numbers this season. The qualification was held in the morning and the sweltering conditions in Tokyo played its part. London 2012 champion Keshorn Walcott, Doha 2019 World Champion Anderson Peters and Polish record holder Marcin Krukowski will be absent.

Missing from final

Rank of throws in 2021 NOC Name Season Best
2 POL KRUKOWSKI Marcin 89.55
3 TTO WALCOTT Keshorn 89.12
5 LAT CAKSS Gatis 87.57
8 RSA van ROOYEN Rocco 85.97
9 USA SHUEY Michael 85.67
12 TPE HUANG Shih-Feng 85.03
13 FIN KUUSELA Toni 85.03
15 ESP JAINAGA Odei 84.8
18 GRN PETERS Anderson 83.46

Where do the finalists stand

In the tables below, courtesy World Athletics, we will see the results in 2021 for the athletes who have a best of 85-plus in 2021.

Vetter in 2021

Date Competition Result
07 FEB 2021 Meeting International Javelot, ETSV Stadion, Offenburg 87.27
24 APR 2021 Speerwurfmeeting, ETSV Stadion, Offenburg 91.50
08 MAY 2021 European Throwing Cup, Stadion Park Mladeži, Split 91.12
19 MAY 2021 60th Ostrava Golden Spike, Mestský Stadion, Ostrava 94.20
21 MAY 2021 Anhalt 2021, Paul-Greifzu-Stadion, Dessau 93.20
29 MAY 2021 European Athletics Team Championships Super League, Stadion Śląski, Chorzów 96.29
26 JUN 2021 Kuortane Games, Kuortaneen keskusurheilukenttä, Kuortane 93.59
29 JUN 2021 Spitzen Leichtathletik, Stadion Allmend, Luzern 92.14
13 JUL 2021 Müller British GP, International Stadium, Gateshead - Diamond Discipline 85.25
16 JUL 2021 18. Thumer Werfertag, Stadion an der Wiesenstraße, Thum 86.48
04 AUG 2021 The XXXII Olympic Games (Athletics), Olympic Stadium, Tokyo 85.64

Meet Arshad Nadeem, the Pakistan athlete looking to make a mark:

Arshad Nadeem once dreamed of becoming a star cricketer, but after switching to athletics he has the opportunity to grab Pakistan’s first individual Olympic medal in more than 30 years. Since its first Olympics in London in 1948, Pakistan have won three gold, three silver and two bronze medals in field hockey.

The bronzes won by wrestler Mohammad Bashir in Rome in 1960 and boxer Hussain Shah in Seoul in 1988 are Pakistan’s only individual Olympic medals.

But among the finalists, Nadeem has the fourth-best javelin throw of the year – a personal best 86.38 metres achieved in April in Iran. The strapping 24-year-old, who ditched cricket for athletics as a teenager, already has a taste for gold, having stood atop the podium at last year’s South Asian Games in Nepal. He took bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games behind gold-winner Neeraj Chopra of India.

It hasn’t been an easy path for the 1.87 metre-tall (six feet two inches) Nadeem, who comes from a village in a wheat and cotton-producing area of Punjab. With sons and daughters put to work early, he had little time for his first love, cricket, and facilities and proper training were scarce. 

— via AFP

Chopra in 2021

Date Competition Result
05 MAR 2021 Indian Grand Prix 3, Patiala 88.07 (NR)
17 MAR 2021 Federation Cup, Patiala 87.80
10 JUN 2021 Meeting Cidade de Lisboa, Estadio Universitario, Lisboa 83.18
22 JUN 2021 Karlstad GP, Tingvalla IP, Karlstad 80.96
26 JUN 2021 Kuortane Games, Kuortaneen keskusurheilukenttä, Kuortane 86.79
04 AUG 2021 The XXXII Olympic Games (Athletics), Olympic Stadium, Tokyo 86.65

Andrade in 2021

Date Competition Result
17 APR 2021 Olimpik Deneme, Antalya NM
08 MAY 2021 European Throwing Cup, Stadion Park Mladeži, Split 86.66
21 MAY 2021 Anhalt 2021, Paul-Greifzu-Stadion, Dessau 82.99
29 MAY 2021 Moldavian Ch., Dinamo Stadium, Chisinau 85.28
05 JUN 2021 Championships of the Small States of Europe, Serravalle 84.54
15 JUN 2021 Kladno hází a Kladenské Memoriály, Mestský Stadion Sletište, Kladno 83.82
20 JUN 2021 European Athletics Team Championships Third League, Limassol 82.57
04 AUG 2021 The XXXII Olympic Games (Athletics), Olympic Stadium, Tokyo 82.70

Arshad Nadeem in 2021

Date Competition Result
12 APR 2021 1st International Imam Reza Cup Athletics Tournament, Mashhad 86.38
04 AUG 2021 The XXXII Olympic Games (Athletics), Olympic Stadium, Tokyo 85.16

Katkavets in 2021

Date Competition Result
10 FEB 2021 Belarus Winter Throwing Cup, RTSOP, Minsk 81.26
29 APR 2021 Shukevich Memorial, Regional Sport Complex, Brest 85.10
08 MAY 2021 European Throwing Cup, Stadion Park Mladeži, Split 82.01
20 MAY 2021 Belarus Universiade, Regional Sport Complex, Brest 83.03
01 JUN 2021 Belarus Cup, Regional Sport Complex, Brest 81.80
07 JUN 2021 Memoriál Josefa Odložila, Stadion Juliska, Praha 82.91
13 JUN 2021 Vzhůru Brno - Memoriál Josefa Sečkáře, Sports Stadium CESA VUT, Brno 80.90
15 JUN 2021 Kladno hází a Kladenské Memoriály, Mestský Stadion Sletište, Kladno 79.02
25 JUN 2021 Belarus Ch., Dinamo National Olympic Stadium, Minsk 80.71
04 AUG 2021 The XXXII Olympic Games (Athletics), Olympic Stadium, Tokyo 82.72