Days after his Asian Games gold medal with a national record-breaking effort, star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra finished an impressive fourth in his first Diamond League Final appearance in Zurich.
His throws (in metres) were 78.53, 85.73, 80.99, X, 79.79, 82.24. Chopra was third till the last round of throws but was pipped by 0.03 metres by Olympic champion Thomas Roehler, who ultimately finished third by the narrowest of margins.
Andreas Hoffman set the bar high as his 91.44m effort was nearly four metres further than closest challenger Magnus Kirt.
Elsewhere, South African Caster Semenya wrapped up another fantastic season by claiming the women’s 800m trophy as American sprint hope Noah Lyles took the 200m crown.
“It was just fantastic,” said Semenya, who won in 1min 55.27sec, more than 2sec ahead of American Ajee Wilson in second.
“It has been a long month of racing for me and I feel it on my body. I am consistent at this level, but the world record is actually not on my mind,” said Semenya, the double Olympic champion (2012, 2016) and three-time world champion (2009, 2011, 2017) who is now unbeaten over the 800m since her elimination in the semi-finals of the 2015 worlds in Beijing.
Lyles was one of the headline acts in Zurich and the 21-year-old made no mistake as he won the 200m in 19.67sec, just two-hundredths off his personal best set in Monaco last month. It was Lyles’ fifth win on the Diamond League circuit this season, with Turkey’s world and European champion Ramil Guliyev coming in second in 19.98sec.
The women’s blue riband event saw Britain’s newly-crowned European champion Dina Asher-Smith, who struck triple gold in Berlin after also winning the 200m and taking the 4x100m relay with her British team, clocked 11.08sec to take second in the 100m. Nigerian Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor having false started, Asher-Smith finished behind Murielle Ahoure in 11.01sec with another Ivorian, Marie-Josee Ta Lou, in third.
In the field, New Zealand’s Tom Walsh wrapped up his shot put trophy with a meetig and Diamond League record of 22.60m. And Greece’s double defending title holder Ekaterina Stefanidi continued the form that saw her clinch European gold for a third successive title.
Stefanidi, with the world, Olympic and European titles to her name, cleared a best of 4.87m to nudge out American Sandi Morris, who holds the season’s best. Disappointingly, Norwegian teenager Jakob Ingebrigtsen was a late withdrawal because of sickness, having himself only been named in the field as a late replacement.
Aged just 17, he took gold in both the men’s 1500m and 5000m at the Berlin Euros, but in his absence in Zurich, Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot timed 3:30.27 to beat out compatriot and current world champion Elijah Manangoi to defend his Diamond League trophy.
China’s Lijao Gong having won the women’s shot put a day before the main action in Brussels, 15 Diamond League disciplines remain to be decided at a sell-out King Baudouin II stadium on Friday.
(With AFP inputs