Ten months after his Tokyo Olympics gold medal, Neeraj Chopra returned to action in some style on Tuesday, rewriting his own national record for men’s javelin with a throw of 89.30 metres at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Finland.

It was Chopra’s first competitive event since winning a historic gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Chopra’s record-breaking throw helped him finish second in the competition. Oliver Helander, the event’s local favourite, topped the list with a throw of 89.83 metres.

Chopra’s previous national record was 88.07m, which he set in March in Patiala last year. A few months later, on August 7, he went where no Indian athlete had ever gone before, becoming the country’s first ever track and field champion at the Olympics.

On that day, he had registered a best attempt of 87.58m, that came with his second throw.

A mighty eighty seven point five eight: Thank you, Neeraj Chopra

In his first attempt on Tuesday, Chopra got going with a solid 86.92m before reaching close to the 90m he has his eyes on. The 89.30 with the second attempt turned out to be the best of his career so far. After three illegal throws, he finished the day with another solid effort at 85.85m.

The event was won by Helander who threw a monster personal best of 89.83m. Meanwhile, reigning world champion and season leader Anderson Peters finished third with a throw of 86.60m.

Chopra, who had set a junior world record of 86.48m in 2016 by winning the gold medal at the IAAF U20 World Championships, has steadily improved his best throws year on year and is no stranger to breaking his own national record. The U20 gold, a turning point in his career, was also the first time he had broken Rajinder Singh’s national record, after jointly holding the mark of 82.23m for a while, set at SEA Games in February 2016. He came close to that U20 world record mark again at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April while winning gold. The next national record came at the Doha IAAF Diamond League, in the Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, with 87.43m in May. The mark would be rewritten again the same year as he clinched gold at the 2018 Asian Games with 88.06m.

Injury, surgery and a pandemic meant a brief pause for Chopra’s milestone-improving spree.

Just like 2022, he was off to a fine start in 2021 too, rewriting the national record at the Indian Grand Prix 3 in Patiala on March 5 2021, but this time just by a small margin, going up to 88.07m.

And then, after a 10-month break, with his sights set on the 2022 World Championships, Chopra got close to the 90m mark with 89.30 for the latest national record.

Neeraj Chopra's progression with each year

Performance Place Date
2013 69.66 Thiruvanthapuram (IND) 26 JUL 2013
2014 70.19 Patiala (IND) 17 AUG 2014
2015 81.04 Patiala (IND) 31 DEC 2015
2016 86.48 Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium, Bydgoszcz (POL) 23 JUL 2016
2017 85.63 Patiala (IND) 02 JUN 2017
2018 88.06 Jakarta (INA) 27 AUG 2018
2020 87.86 McArthur Stadium, Potchefstroom (RSA) 28 JAN 2020
2021 88.07 Patiala (IND) 05 MAR 2021
2022 89.30 Paavo Nurmi Stadium, Turku (FIN) 14 JUN 2022

Read more on Chopra’s journey before the U20 gold and world record here.

While Chopra goes top of the men’s javelin charts for throws in 2022 by Indian athletes with a new national record, another good sign for Indian javelin is that three others have cleared the 80m this season, with DP Manu and Rohit Yadav shining at the recent AFI meet in Chennai.

Best throws by Indians in men's javelin in 2022

Mark Competitor Venue Date
89.30 Neeraj CHOPRA Paavo Nurmi Stadium, Turku (FIN) 14 JUN 2022
84.35 D.P MANU Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai (IND) 11 JUN 2022
82.54 Rohit YADAV Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai (IND) 11 JUN 2022
82.43 D.P MANU Thiruvanthapuram (IND) 13 MAR 2022
82.13 Yash Vir SINGH Bhubaneshwar (IND) 24 MAY 2022

In terms of best performances across the world in 2022, Chopra straightaway found a spot in the top 10. His 89.30 is the sixth best registered mark so far this year. And considering only the best throws by each athlete, the Indian stands fifth behind 2019 World champion Anderson Peters, Tokyo silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch, Paavo Nurmi Games winner Oliver Helander and German star Julian Weber.

Best throws overall in men's javelin in 2022

Rank Mark Competitor Nat Pos Venue Date Results Score
1 93.07 Anderson PETERS GRN 1 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 13 MAY 2022 1288
2 90.88 Jakub VADLEJCH CZE 2 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 13 MAY 2022 1256
3 90.75 Anderson PETERS GRN 1 Blankers-Koen Stadion, Hengelo (NED) 06 JUN 2022 1254
4 89.83 Oliver HELANDER FIN 1 Paavo Nurmi Stadium, Turku (FIN) 14 JUN 2022 1241
5 89.54 Julian WEBER GER 2 Blankers-Koen Stadion, Hengelo (NED) 06 JUN 2022 1237
6 89.30 Neeraj CHOPRA IND 2 Paavo Nurmi Stadium, Turku (FIN) 14 JUN 2022 1234
7 89.07 Keshorn WALCOTT TTO 3 Blankers-Koen Stadion, Hengelo (NED) 06 JUN 2022 1230
8 87.88 Anderson PETERS GRN 1 Mestský Stadion, Ostrava (CZE) 31 MAY 2022 1213
9 87.53 Aliaksei KATKAVETS BLR 1 RTSOP, Minsk (BLR) 08 FEB 2022 1208
10 87.48 Aliaksei KATKAVETS BLR 1 Regional Sport Complex, Brest (BLR) 29 APR 2022 1208
11 87.32 Andreas HOFMANN GER 1 Leichtathletikarena, Eisenstadt (AUT) 02 JUN 2022 1205
12 86.60 Anderson PETERS GRN 3 Paavo Nurmi Stadium, Turku (FIN) 14 JUN 2022 1195
13 86.52 Andreas HOFMANN GER 1 ETSV Stadion, Offenburg (GER) 15 MAY 2022 1194
14 86.09 Julian WEBER GER 3 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 13 MAY 2022 1188
15 85.85 Anderson PETERS GRN 1 x-bionic sphere, Šamorín (SVK) 09 JUN 2022 1184
16 85.64 Johannes VETTER GER 2 ETSV Stadion, Offenburg (GER) 15 MAY 2022 1181
17 85.50 Jakub VADLEJCH CZE 1 Stadion Juliska, Praha (CZE) 06 JUN 2022 1179
18 85.02 Julian WEBER GER 1 Paul-Greifzu-Stadion, Dessau (GER) 25 MAY 2022 1173
19 84.78 Leandro RAMOS POR 4 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 13 MAY 2022 1169
20 84.77 Andrian MARDARE MDA 5 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 13 MAY 2022 1169

“This was my first competition since the Tokyo Olympics and it went really well as in the first competition itself, I hit my personal best throw,” Chopra was quoted as saying by Sports Authority of India. “I got a good start here, so it has definitely boosted my confidence that I can perform better and I will take the shortcomings from here and improve upon them as we head for a bigger event.”

Chopra, whose exposure trips and training camps are covered under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme, is currently training in Finland for the upcoming Kuortane Games and then the Diamond League event in Stockholm. Late last year, after an early end to the 2021 season, Chopra had started his training initially at United States’ Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Centre for three months, followed by another three months of training at the Gloria Sports Arena in Antalya, Turkey, this year.

Neeraj Chopra's all-time top 10

Date Competition Result Record
14 JUN 2022 Paavo Nurmi Games, Paavo Nurmi Stadium, Turku 89.30 National Record
27 AUG 2018 Jakarta Asian Games, Jakarta 88.06
05 MAR 2021 Indian Grand Prix 3, Patiala 88.07
28 JAN 2020 ACNW League Meeting 1, McArthur Stadium, Potchefstroom 87.86
17 MAR 2021 Federation Cup, Patiala 87.80
07 AUG 2021 The XXXII Olympic Games, National Stadium, Tokyo 87.58
04 MAY 2018 Doha IAAF Diamond League, Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha 87.43
26 JUN 2021 Kuortane Games, Kuortaneen keskusurheilukenttä, Kuortane 86.79
04 AUG 2021 The XXXII Olympic Games, National Stadium, Tokyo 86.65
23 JUL 2016 Bydgoszcz IAAF World U20 Championships, Zdzislaw Krzyszkowiak Stadium, Bydgoszcz 86.48 World U20 Record

Stats courtesy World Athletics

With SAI and JSW inputs