Neeraj, Lili enter final

Neeraj topped the qualifying group with a 78.20m effort in the IAAF World under-20 athletics championship in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Friday.

India's Neeraj Chopra competes in the men's javelin throw qualification round in the IAAF World U-20 Championships at the Zawisza Stadium in Bydgoszcz, Poland.   -  Getty Images

Neeraj Chopra, the South Asian Games champion who has the world’s top five throws among juniors this season, entered the men’s javelin throw final after topping the qualifying group with a 78.20m effort in the IAAF World under-20 athletics championship in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Friday.

That should make him the favourite for the gold — and if it comes it will be the country’s first-ever in a world athletics championship — in Saturday night’s final.

West Bengal’s Asian junior champion Lili Das, who had a disappointing 800m a couple of days ago, qualified for the women’s 1500m final with a personal best of 4:19.48s in the heats.

But there was disappointment as last year’s Asian youth champion Beant Singh — the world’s third fastest under-18 runner this year with a personal best of 1:48.51 (senior Federation Cup in Delhi, April) — failed to qualify for the men’s 800m semifinal after finishing fifth in the first round heat in 1:51.73s.

Ajay Kumar Saroj, who has a personal best of 3:44.4s and who has been on a fine run in the senior national circuit this season, finished fifth in the men’s 1500m final on Thursday night in 3:49.52s.

The results (gold medallists & Indian performances in finals only):

Men: 1500m: Kumari Taki (Ken) 3:48.63s; 5. Ajay Kumar Saroj (Ind) 3:49.52. 110m hurdles: Marcus Krah (USA) 13.25s. Triple jump: Lazaro Martinez (Cub) 17.06m.

Women: 100m: Candace Hill (USA) 11.07s. 400m: Tiffany James (Jam) 51.32s. 800m: Samantha Watson (USA) 2:04.52s. Pole vault: Angelica Moser (Sui) 4.55m NMR. Discus throw: Kristina Rakocevic (Mne) 56.36m.

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