Jun-ya Sado produced the throw of his life in the final round of the men’s javelin to take a surprise gold on the last day of the Asian Junior Championships in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday (6).
India’s Neeraj Chopra went into the javelin final as the pre-event favourite, having set an Asian junior record of 82.23m earlier this year, taking him to eighth on the world U20 all-time list. The 18-year-old was first to throw in the running order and his opening effort of 77.60m not only gave him an early lead, but it also broke the championship record.
Sado opened with 74.78m, just 67 centimetres shy of the personal best he set earlier this year, but trailed Chopra by some margin. But with his last throw of the day, Sado sent his spear soaring out to 77.97m to take the lead, coming within 60 centimetres of Genki Dean’s national junior record.
Chopra had just one opportunity with which to respond, but his final effort of 76.45m wasn’t enough to reclaim the lead. Pakistan’s Arshad Nadeem, who set a national senior record of 78.33m earlier this year, was third with 73.40m.
Sado’s gold medal was one of 13 won by Japanese athletes across the four days of action as Japan topped the medals table.
Teammates and Yoshiro Watanabe and Haruko Ishizuka made it a Japanese double in the 400m hurdles. Watanabe won the men’s title in 50.86, while national junior record-holder Ishizuka took the women’s gold medal in 57.91, winning by almost two seconds.
The other stand-out performance on the final day of the championships came from Chinese Taipei’s Yang Chun-Han in the men’s 200m.
Just as he had done in the 4x100m one day prior, the 19-year-old defeated 100m winner Khairul Hafiz Jantan of Malaysia, stopping the clock at 20.73 (0.5m/s).
Indian athletes won both 800m titles, Jacob Amoj winning the men’s event in 1:51.82 and Das Lili taking the women’s title in 2:06.64.
For the fourth edition in succession, the championship record fell in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Japan’s Chika Mukai, who finished sixth in the 1500m at the IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015, won convincingly in 10:21.04 to win by 10 seconds and take six seconds off the championship record.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF