When Neeraj Chopra let the javelin fly in a sweaty Tokyo evening 10 months ago, he was certain that he had set a National Record.
When he returned to international competition in Turku on Tuesday, Chopra emitted a similar shriek as the javelin pierced through the sunny Finnish sky, the sport’s spiritual home. He likewise raised his arms in triumph, just as he did in Tokyo.
This time, the record was indeed National.
In addition to setting a new national record with his second throw of the night, Neeraj Chopra’s 89.30m effort on Tuesday bettered his own record by more than a metre, in only his second international competition since the Olympics.
It was a massive throw that helped him finish second on the podium at the Paavo Nurmi Games, behind home favourite Oliver Helander, who produced a personal best throw of 89.93m after staying out of action for nearly 10 months. World champion Anderson Peters of Grenada finished third with a throw of 86.60m.
In his first throw, Neeraj Chopra threw 86.92 meters, but he was unable to throw as far on his third, fourth, or fifth attempts, finishing with 85.85 meters. The outcome will undoubtedly be a significant morale boost prior to the upcoming World Championships, as well as a sign that he is on the right path to breaking the sacred 90-meter barrier.
On Tuesday, Chopra recorded the fifth-best throw of 89.30 metres.
After the Tokyo Olympics, the athlete was away from the sport attending felicitation functions, shooting commercials, and appearing on talk shows for many months, until he could finally return to the athletics field. He returned to the basics in November 2017, when he traveled to the Chula Vista training centre in the USA. Chopra weighed down to compete again by lowering 14 kilograms. From the start of the year until now, he’s been in India preparing for the World Championships. Although a competitive field in Turku included four of the year’s best throwers, including Peter, Vadlejch, Julian Weber, and Keshorn Walcott, Chopra just like in Tokyo held his own.
Prior to the event, Neeraj Chopra revealed in an interview that his coach, Klaus Bartonietz, had arranged for him to throw ’86-87-88m‘ during the season opener. According to Chopra, the target was in line with his current condition. If he can throw nearly 90m, both Neeraj Chopra and his coach will be content.
India’s star javelin thrower, who is preparing for next month’s World Championships in London, said he will attempt to better the 87.58-metre throw that won him gold at the last world championships in Tokyo.
He clocked 86.48m at the U20 World Championships that year, becoming the first Indian track and field athlete to set an U20 World Record. His best performance prior to Tuesday came at the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala in March 2021, where he threw 88.07m.
On Tuesday, he shattered the record with ease. Neeraj Chopra now seeks to leap 90 meters, joining a select group of athletes who have accomplished the feat.