India will have two athletes in the Diamond League final in Eugene to be held on September 16 and 17 after both javeline thrower Neeraj Chopra and long jumper Sreeshankar Murali finished in the top six on the points table at the end of the Zurich leg on Thursday night.

Chopra didn’t go all out in Zurich and Sreeshankar was not at his best, but both of them were third on the charts with 23 and 14 points respectively.

It was perhaps the strain of competing in a Diamond League just four days after being crowned World Champion. India’s Neeraj Chopra didn’t have an easy night in Zurich with three no marks but he still managed a throw of 85.71 metres in the sixth and last round to finish second behind Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch (85.86 metres). Julian Webber of Germany finished third with 85.04 in a close contest.

The three occupy top 3 spots on the points table after four rounds; Vadlejch on 29, Webber on 25 and Chopra on 23.
The top six qualify for the Diamond League final in Eugene in mid September.

The other Indian in Zurich, long jumoer Murali Sreeshankar finished fifth with a best jump of 7.99 metres. Sreeshankar is third after four events with 14 points and trails Simon Ehammer of Switzerland (23 points) and World Champion Maltiadis Tentoglou (29 points). Tentoglou won in Zurich with 8.20 metres, while Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle finished second (8.07m).

Chopra, the defending Diamond League Champion started off with a modest 80.79 metres and followed it up with two consecutive no marks. However, in the fourth round, Chopra produced 85.22 to finish in the top three at the end of the fifth round. The top-three got a sixth and final attempt and they were Vadlejch, Chopra and Germany’s Webber.

All three were in Zurich just four days after the World Championships final, so a really big throw would be a surprise because their bodies would have been a bit fatigued. Chopra had said his back and shoulders were still in pain after his gold-medal winning effort in Budapest on Sunday night.

In the sixth and final round, Vadlejch went first but lost his footing near the scratch line and fouled. Chopra, not at his best on a slightly chilly night, produced his best throw in the final round with 85.71 metres, just 15 centimetres short of Vadlejch. Webber, the last of the three in the sixth and final round, produced 84.92 metres to settle for third. Webber’s best throw on the night was 85.04 metres in the fourth round.

Chopra bagged seven points for his second place finish in Zurich. Chopra had skipped Monaco towards the end of July as he was saving himself for the World Championships with an adductor strain still a worry.

However, despite not being at his best physically, Chopra once again showed he is capable of delivering the goods when it matters. By the end of the third round, Chopra with 80.79 and two no marks against his name, was down in fifth place.

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