By Martin Quin Pollard
HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – The track and field competition at the Hangzhou Asian Games was marred by another controversy on Wednesday when officials failed to record a “good” first throw made by Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra.
The Indian eventually won the Asiad gold thanks to getting 88.88 metres on his fourth registered effort. But before that he was trailing his compatriot and rival Kishore Jena and there was a danger he might lose the gold because of the confusion.
Chopra was second man to throw in the final. He launched his throw and it looked long, well over 85m, but his distance did not initially appear on the digital board and before the issue could be resolved the next athlete launched his throw.
Yet Chopra’s name was still being shown on the digital board and on the Games’ official online information and results service, as if he had not yet taken his first throw.
A strange delay ensued. Officials started engaging in discussions. Soon Chopra went over to speak to them to protest because he knew his was a “good throw”.
“I also don’t know what happened,” he told reporters. “I fight (protest my case) with them because it was a good throw. And I asked them what happened, what happened? I go there for six times.”
After several minutes, several officials on the field gathered around the area close to where Chopra’s javelin landed and prodded several areas with their feet.
“I wanted to understand what had happened,” he said.
“They kept looking for the mark but they didn’t find it. It felt like a great throw to me, I’ll watch the video later, I don’t know how much it was, but I’m told that it was really good.
“So I was a little disappointed because it was a good throw, and there was a good wind behind me as well.”
Chopra said that there may have been a technical problem or they may have not finished measuring his first throw when the next athlete made his first throw.
“They said they would let me have another first throw after that. I didn’t have any other choice as it was disturbing the other competitors too. It was windy and everyone was cooling down, so I said I’ll do my first throw again.”
“The rule is for six throws but I threw seven times.”
Neither Chopra nor his 75-year-old coach Klaus Bartonietz have seen this happen before in competition.
“We just noticed that no result, no result, because they took it out and measured again the other on… shit happens,” Bartonietz said.
“In the training results were promising so we know what he can do and he did it. But then they, with this other guy running in and just messed it up.
“They are also unhappy with this. It’s not good for their reputation” he said, referring to the officials.
Earlier this week in the women’s 100m hurdles final China’s Wu Yanni protested a false start she had been charged with, caused a long delay to the race and then chose to run anyway, though she was later disqualified.
On Saturday an athletics official suffered a broken leg and serious bleeding after being hit by a misthrown hammer.
(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard)