Davinder Singh Kang has become the first Indian to qualify for the final round of the javelin throw World Championships while his more fancied compatriot Neeraj Chopra crashed out in the qualification round.
Competing in the qualification round Group B on Thursday, Kang, who was carrying a shoulder injury, cleared the automatic qualification mark of 83m in his third and final throw as he sent the iron spear to a distance of 84.22m. He had covered 82.22m in his opening throw and then came up with 82.14m in his second.
The 26-year-old athlete from Punjab was under pressure to touch the 83m in his final attempt and he was the last man to take the throw. He did it in style by sending the spear beyond the qualification mark to the huge relief of the Indian camp.
Thirteen throwers – five from Group A and seven from Group B – crossed the automatic qualification mark of 83m and all of them will compete in the final round on August 12.
Kang’s best effort of 84.22m put him in the seventh position among the final round qualifiers. His final round qualification was all the more noteworthy as he was carrying an injury since the Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi in May. He competed yesterday with his right shoulder strapped.
No Indian has ever qualified in the men’s javelin throw final round in any world championship.
“Once I came to know that Neeraj did not qualify (for the final round), I wanted to qualify for it. I wanted to do something for the country, I wanted to do something which no Indian has done before. By the grace of God, I did something for the country,” Kang said after his race.
“I have been carrying a right shoulder injury which I sustained in May during the Indian Grand Prix but it is not that big a problem. Our team masseur put these straps today and I am OK. But I had to ask my friend Sri Lankan competitor (Waruna Rankoth Pedige) to do some stretching before my third and final throw,” he said showing his right shoulder injury.
“It (injury) will be all right after tomorrow’s rest. I want to give my best in the final round on August 12 and win a medal for the country,” he added.
Kang was tested positive for marijuana in June but was named in the 25-member Indian team as the banned substance was in the specified list of the WADA Code and does not attract automatic suspension.