Neeraj Chopra is trying to defend the Diamond League trophy

A World Championship gold has been the crowning glory of this season, but superstar javelin player Neeraj Chopra has to defend his title when he takes on familiar opponents in the prestigious Diamond League final here on Saturday.

Chopra, 25, lifted the Diamond League champions trophy in Zurich last year and will be looking to do the same after a dominating season that saw him claim his first world title in Budapest in August.

If Chopra holds the trophy and collects the $30,000 prize money at the Prefontaine Classic, he will become only the third man to defend the overall DL title, although the format has changed in 2017.

The Diamond League began in 2010, but the winner-takes-all Grand Finals format, competing among the top six (formerly the top eight) based on points accumulated in each stage, was introduced in 2017. Previously, the points from all meetings series was added with a large the final, which had twice as many individual stages.

Czech Vítězslav Veselý was the winner of the DL in 2012 and 2013, and compatriot Jakub Vadlejch in 2016 and 2017, who is currently Chopra’s closest rival.

Chopra, who has a personal best of 89.94m, won two individual DL meets in Doha on May 5 and in Lausanne on June 30 to claim historic gold at the World Championships.

Between Doha and Lausanne, he suffered a groin strain during training, which kept him out of competition for almost a month.

Chopra became only the third javelin thrower in history to win both the world and Olympic titles after winning the world title in Budapest with a throw of 88.17m.

Just a few days after winning the world championship title, he appeared in the DL stage in Zurich on August 31, when he finished second behind Vadlejch. Chopra failed to finish in first place for the first time this season.

Defending Diamond League champion, world champion and Olympic champion Chopra has a season-high 88.77m in qualifying in Budapest, the second best distance on the world list this year.

In addition to defending his title, he would also like to throw 90m for the first time, a distance that has so far eluded him. The Indian will return to Hayward Field where he won silver at the 2022 World Championships behind Grenada’s Anderson Peters, who will also be in action on Saturday.

Vadlejch, who won bronze at the World Championships in Budapest and silver at the Tokyo Olympics behind Chopra, has been a consistent fighter on the global stage and owns the season world lead of 89.51m.

With a personal record of 90.88 m, he would like to turn to Chopra, who beat him in the DL final last year.

He will enter with a lot of confidence after defeating Chopra in Zurich in the DL on August 31st. After 2016 and 2017, he will be seeking his third DL trophy.

Peters has had a tumultuous season but will return to the arena where he won his second world title in 2022. He has been struggling ever since and hopes to end the season with an unforgettable show.

Long jumper Murali Sreeshankar and 3000m hurdler Avinash Sable also qualified for the DL finals in their respective events but decided to withdraw to focus on the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou.

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Ferdinand Medina

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