Less than a year after making history for Pakistan at the Olympics, Arshad Nadeem was at it again in Eugene, Oregon, United States.
With a huge roar at the Hayward Field, the 25-year-old let his javelin fly and as it soared past the 80-metre mark Arshad raised his arms and puffed his cheeks knowing he’d done just enough.
With his season-best throw of 81.71m in Eugene, Arshad became the first athlete from the country to reach a final at the World Athletics Championships.
“Thanks to your [nation’s] prayers, have qualified for the final,” Arshad said on his Instagram, sharing the video of the throw that took him through to final.
“Need more prayers.”
The feat comes after Arshad became the first athlete from his country to reach the final of any track and field events in the history of Olympics when he advanced to the medal decider at the Tokyo Games in August last year where he finished fifth with a throw of 84.62m.
With the automatic qualification mark set at 83.50m, Arshad — nursing an elbow injury — made a slow start. His first throw only reached 76.15m with the second falling even shorter at 74.38m.
However, his third throw was enough to see him finish among the 12 top qualifiers for the final. He was ninth overall among 27 competitors, who were split into two qualifying groups.
Joining him in the final are a host of heavyweights including Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra of India, Czech Jakub Vadlejch, Grenada’s world leader Anderson Peters and Germany’s Julian Weber but former Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago failed to advance.
Chopra, who became the first Olympic track and field gold medallist from India when he won at last year’s Tokyo Games and earn superstardom, bettered his own Olympic gold-winning effort to advance.
Chopra went straight through in Eugene with an opening effort of 88.39m, exceeding the 87.58m he produced in Tokyo, and will be joined by compatriot Rohit Yadav (80.42) in the final.
Reigning world champion Anderson Peters had the best throw of the day with 89.91m. Vadlejch (85.23m) and Weber (87.28m) were the only others to throw beyond the automatic qualification mark.
Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman narrowly missed the qualification mark as his best throw was 83.41m, but made the cut for the final.
There will also be two Finns in the final after Oliver Helander and Lassi Etelätalo cleared the qualification. Helander’s throw of 82.41m saw him finish in sixth place while Etelätalo (80.03m) took the final qualification spot behind Yadav.
The final will feature four Asians with Japan’s Roderick Genki Dean (82.34) qualifying in seventh place, ahead of American Cutris Thompson (81.73) and Arshad.
Walcott, who won in London and picked up bronze in Rio, could only reach 78.87 metres, finishing eighth in his group while Germany’s Andreas Hofman, an 87.32m thrower this year, recorded three fouls and was eliminated.