‘I’m lucky people have faith in me’: Neeraj Chopra says after starting season with win at Doha Diamond League

Neeraj Chopra overcame the tricky Doha conditions to start his 2023 athletics season with a win in the Diamond League on Friday. The Olympic gold medallist threw a distance of 88.67m with his first attempt — which was also the world leading attempt. It was never bettered on the night.

Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch finished second with a best attempt of 88.63m, just four centimeters behind Chopra. World champion Anderson Peters was third on the night with a throw of 85.88m.

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“Today was challenging for all athletes, but I’m still satisfied with my result. It was a very hard win, but I’m happy. It’s a really good start for me. I hope to come in the first place in the next competitions and to keep consistent during this season. I feel really good. It was a good start. Today was challenging, next time I’ll do more throws,” Neeraj Chopra told the Diamond League website after his event.

The Indian was also chuffed at the reception he received while competing.

“I’m lucky people have faith in me, I feel really good. It was a great atmosphere. Lot of people came to support me and they are really happy. For this season I plan to stay fit and do more than I can. Sometimes it’s really hard because we have a big country and people hope for me. This Doha meeting is great, the first one every year. This season I’ll stay fit consistent and I’ll try do my best in next competitions,” he added.

After his first throw of 88.67m, the Indian’s next throws were 86.04m, 85.47m a foul throw, 84.37m and 86.52m.

Chopra had hinted that he was hoping to throw over 90m at Doha.

“The most important thing is that Doha is famous for 90m throws and hopefully, tomorrow will be a great result for all,” he had said at the pre-competition press conference ahead of Friday’s event.

“It always helps to have good competitors. It is my first competition of the season and Yukub has already thrown 88m in Potchefstroom (South Africa) so I think tomorrow will be a great competition,” said Chopra.

Meanwhile, Eldhose Paul could only finish 10th in the 11-man field in men’s triple jump with a best attempt of 15.84m. In fact, Paul jumped that distance with his first effort and was never able to improve on it, with his second leap of 13.65m and last attempt of 14.70m.