Reigning Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra began his World Athletics Championships campaign in style as he qualified for men's javelin throw final with a season best of 88.77m and sealed qualification for 2024 Paris Olympics, here on Friday.
The season-best distance of 88.77m saw Chopra breaching Paris Olympic qualification mark of 85.50m. The qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics for track and field athletes began on July 1, 2023.
The Indian national record holder sent the spear to his season's and fourth career-best distance in his very first attempt while competing in Qualification Group A.
A total of 37 javelin throwers, divided into two groups - A and B - are competing in the qualifiers for a place in the 12-man final, scheduled on Sunday. The automatic qualifying mark is 83.00m.
Those who throw 83m or the top-12 best performers from both Group A and B qualify for the Sunday's final.
The 25-year-old entered the championships as the world's top-ranked javelin thrower and eyeing that elusive gold medal both for his personal medals cabinet and the country.
Chopra came close to becoming the first Indian world champion in any athletics discipline at the 2022 world championships in Oregon but eventually had to settle for a silver medal after finishing behind Grenada’s Anderson Peters.
Another Indian DP Manu, who won the silver at the Asian Athletics Championships this year in Bangkok, started off with 78.10m and made a bettered in his second attempt to jump to third in Group A with an 81.31m throw.
However, his qualification will be confirmed after the conclusion of Group B, where another Indian Kishore Jena will be action, scheduled later in the day.