London, August 12
Unheralded javelin thrower Davinder Singh Kang pipped a more-fancied Neeraj Chopra to qualify for the final at the World Athletics Championship. Kang became the first Indian athlete ever to make it to the javelin throw final at the World Championship.
While Chopra missed the qualifying mark of 83m by a whisker — his best effort was 82.26m — Kang cleared 84.22m to storm into the final.
“After I learnt that Neeraj had failed to qualify, I wanted to qualify for the final round (even more),” said Kang. “I wanted to do something that no Indian has done before. By the grace of God, I did something for the country.”
Incidentally, Kang’s participation in the World Championship had come under a cloud after he tested positive for marijuana in June. He, however, was named in the 25-member squad as the substance does not attract automatic suspension.
Ahead of the Championship, Chopra was being seen as India’s best bet. He, however, failed to live up to his potential. After producing his best effort in the very first throw, he fouled the second, and cleared just 80.54m in his final throw to finish seventh in his group and 15th overall.
Taking the field after Chopra, Kang sent the iron spear to a distance of 84.22m in his third and final attempt. The 26-year-old Punjab athlete’s effort put him in the seventh position among the final-round qualifiers.
Kang, who had his right shoulder strapped due to an injury, sounded confident of putting up a good show in the final. “I suffered the injury in May during the Indian Grand Prix but it is not much of a problem. Our team masseur strapped the shoulder…but I am fine,” said Kang.
“It (injury) will be all right after a day’s rest. I want to give my best in the final round, and win a medal for the country,” he said.
Chopra, on the other hand, was devastated after missing the qualifying mark. “I tried my best but I could not clear the qualification mark. I am really disappointed,” said Chopra. “I put in a lot of effort in the first throw but missed the mark by a few centimetres. I have been training hard but could not do well in the actual competition.
“It would have been nice if a coach had come with me. I don’t know what happened today, I cannot say whether it was a technical issue or some other factor,” he said.