Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian athlete to become a world champion in a field event as he clinched gold at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Bydogszcz, Poland on Saturday.
Chopra further created a new U-20 world record with his throw of 86.48m, surpassing the previous record of 84.69m by Latvian thrower Zigisimunds Sirmais.
Neeraj Chopra wins javelin gold at #WU20Bydgoszcz2016 with World U20 Record 86.48m
2 Grobler RSA
3 Peters GRN pic.twitter.com/EYSWoKHxsb
- IAAF (@iaaforg) 23 July 2016
"It is an incredible feeling. I was feeling strong and confident before the event and after the first throw I was sure I could go farther," he said.
Chopra began strongly with a throw of 79.66m, leading the game. While South Africa's Johan Grobler's attempt of 80.59 briefly took away his lead, the 19-year-old settled for a comfortable lead post his next throw of 86.48m. He finished the round with a third throw of 78.36m.
He had previously made the cut for the finals with his throw of 78.20m in the qualification round.
"When the spear left my hand on that second throw, I had a feeling that this was a special throw," said Chopra. "I don't think I expected it to go over 86 meters but since the last couple of months, I have worked hard on my fitness, my technique and it all paid off today."
He now ranks eighth amongst all throwers this year, moving ahead of Olympic gold medalist Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago, whose best this year has been a throw of 86.35m.
Chopra, however, missed his shot at Rio as his throw - much higher than the Olympic standard of 83m - came after the cut-off date of 11 July.