Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra broke the junior World record on way to the gold in the IAAF World under-20 athletics championship at Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Saturday. His 86.48m effort brought India’s first World record and the country’s first-ever gold in any World athletics championships. Two Indian women discus throwers, Seema Antil (bronze, 2002) and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze, 2014) had won medals in the World junior championship earlier. Long jumper Anju Bobby George is the only Indian to have won a medal in the senior World championship, with a bronze in 2003. The 18-year-old Neeraj, who had won the South Asian Games gold in Guwahati early this year with a personal best 82.23m which made him the world’s best junior thrower this season, had been struggling in recent meets and could win just a silver at last month’s junior Asian championship in Vietnam. But he came good at the right time tonight. He took the lead with his opening effort in the final, with 79.66m, but South African Johan Grobler moved ahead with an 80.59m. Neeraj then came up with the big one which broke the five-year-old under-20 World record (84.69m) of Latvia’s Zigismunds Sirmais by nearly 2 metres. It was also over4m over his previous best. Earlier, the Indian men’s 4x400m relay team (Kiran Murugan, Harsh Kumar, Pankaj and P.A. Amol Jacob, 3:08.89s, fourth in heats) broke the National junior record and progressed to the final. But the women’s mile relay team (Taisha Sammadder, V. Subha, Shaharbana Sidhique and Jisna Mathew) failed to progress. The results (gold medallists only): Men: 200m: Michael Norman Jr (USA) 20.17s. 400m: Abdalelah Haroun (Qat) 44.81s. High jump: Luis Enrique Zayas (Cub) 2.27m. Javelin: Neeraj Chopra (Ind) 86.48m, under-20 World record; OR 84.69m, Latvia’s Zigismunds Sirmais). Hammer: Bence Halasz (Hun) 80.93m. 10,000m race walk: Callum Wilkinson (GBR) 40:41.62s.
Women: 5000m: Kalkidan Fentie (Eth) 15:29.64s. 400m hurdles: Anna Cockrell (USA) 55.20s. 3000m steeplechase: Celliphine Chepteek (Ken) 9:25.15s. Long jump: Yanis David (Fra) 6.42m. Triple jump: Ting Chen (Chn) 13.85m.