The men’s javelin final was drama-packed as confusion reigned supreme.
Star athlete Neeraj Chopra found himself in the thick of things as he was forced to retake his first throw. His first attempt was wiped off the system! The javelin final event faced measurement issues, with even the broadcast graphics appearing misaligned.
After his first attempt – a legal one, Chopra had walked back into the rest attempt. He waited for his distance to be reflected, but it didn’t!
Neeraj then walked up to the referees while the event came to a pause.
After several moments, Neeraj was asked to retake the throw! The equipment had failed to calculate Neeraj’s throw. Upon retaking his first attempt, a composed Neeraj registered a throw of 82.38 meters.
The other Indian, Kishore Jena started strong with a throw of 81.26 meters.
The event in the final left the organisers red-faced!
Following his gold-medal winning feat, Neeraj opened up on the drama that marred the event.
"I don't know why they did not measure my first throw. Just after me, the second and third competitors had their throws and their distance were measured. I kept on asking what happened to my first throw," Chopra told reporters after winning gold medal on his fourth attempt.
"I was puzzled and confused, it has never happened in any competition I have competed in till now. I think they lost my landing mark and they kept on looking for it."
Kishore Jena, who joined Chopra on the podium with his silver-winning effort, also had his second throw invalidated for crossing the line but the decision was later reversed.
‘Trying to cheat us’
Anju Bobby George, the senior vice president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) accused the officials of deliberately targeting the Indians.
"They are trying to cheat us and trying to disturb our athletes. Neeraj's first throw was a very good throw and it was a kind of disturbance. We called Neeraj to protest there itself. Jena's throw also called foul when he was one foot behind the line," the legendary long jumper alleged.
Anju reckons that winning in China is difficult as their officials are always up for some "mischief" and disturb the athletes.
"Winning in China is very difficult so though we are best runner, thrower, jumper they will do all such mischief and disturb our athletes."
Asked if the officials gave any reason for not measuring his first throw, Chopra said, "One of the officials said the second athlete after me had taken his throw quickly. It was a bizarre situation."
"I am told that it was a very good throw, probably 87-88m. Mentally you feel relieved if your first throw is very good. Later they told me I will be given another throw for the first attempt."
A perfect gentleman he is, Chopra agreed to it.
"I did not have any other means, I thought there was no point arguing for long. I also thought it's affecting the competition of other competitors. The other competitors were waiting and I need to respect them also. The wind was blowing and everybody was feeling cold. So, I thought I will take the throw later.
"Rule says only six throws, but for the first time I got seven throws in a competition," he said with a laugh.
Chopra cited several other instances of alleged "cheating", including the red-carding of 100m hurdler Jyothi Yarraji for false start before her medal was upgraded from bronze to silver, and not measuring of Annu Rani's throw.
"I felt bad that my first throw in such a big competition went like that. Jyothi ki saath bhi aisa huwa, mere saath garbar huwa hey. Jena ka ek throw mey bhi huwa. So there were issues, but finally, I would say our results were good. Despite whatever has been done, we have shown that we came prepared.
"Our team should certainly look into why there are so many issues we are facing, I have never seen these kinds of things in big competitions. I or some other athlete could have been mentally down after the first throw. Anything could happen. Jyothi also fought," he said.
Anju also alleged that Chinese officials are deliberately targeting the Indian athletes. "This is Asian Games not a small National Championship. I don't know why they are doing this and especially they are targeting Indians. It was deliberate."
She even felt that one of long jumper M Sreeshankar's jumps wasn't accurately measured. "I doubt it was not 8.19m. It was much better than that and one of them raised the red flag. It was not a foul I guess."