India’s ace javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra created a new national record, bettering his own mark set at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, on his way to a gold medal in the third leg of the Indian Grand Prix event, held in Patiala on Friday.

Having qualified for the Olympic Games in January last year, Chopra has been out of action since as the pandemic has disrupted the athletics calendar. This event in Patiala marked his return to action and he registered a 88.07m throw on his fifth attempt to better his mark in Jakarta by one centimeter (88.06m).

Chopra registered 80-plus throws in all four of his valid attempts. His first was a 83.03m, followed by a couple of fouls, then 83.36m, which was followed by the record on the fifth try. Given it was just a centimetre more, the mark was confirmed after a few minutes to double-check the distance and was announced on the speakers by the organisers. He finished the day with a 82.24m throw.

If the throw is ratified by World Athletics, it will be the season-topping mark of 2021 in men’s javelin. Sitting atop that list currently is one of the Olympics favourites Johannes Vetter (Germany) with 87.27m.

Chopra had qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in January last year in an event in South Africa during his training stint in that country. That was also the last competition he had taken part before Friday.

Chopra, who was representing Haryana in the IGP, had said that he will also take part in the Federation Cup National Championships to be held here from March 15-18, reported PTI.

Another Olympic-bound javelin thrower, Shivpal Singh of Uttar Pradesh, was second with a best throw of 81.63m while Sahil Silwal, representing Haryana, was third with a best effort of 80.65m.

The Tokyo Olympics qualification mark in men’s javelin is 85m which has already been achieved by Chopra and Yadav.

In other notable results, Amoj Jacob improved upon his personal best in the 400m yet again by stopping the clock at 45.70 seconds, a good three-tenths of a second faster than the time he had clocked in Indian Grand Prix II here last week.

Shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor breached the 20m mark and long jumper M Sreeshankar showed consistency by hitting the sand at 7.91m after having breached 8m last week.

In the 200m sprint, Muhammed Anas Yahiya clocked 21.48 seconds to sustain his speed work as part of his preparations for the 400m while steeplechaser Avinash Sable showed good form to clock 8:24.40.

In the women’s events, javelin thrower Annu Rani tryst with throws in excess of 60m continued as she produced a best of 61.98m on Friday. She had another effort of 61.96m while four other throws were below the 60m mark. And, there was 400m-800m double for M R Poovamma. In one of the oddest moments of the day Hima Das, running as the sole competitor after the only other starter pulled out, clocked a personal best time of 11.67 seconds in the 100m event.

The Athletics Federation of India said later in a press interaction that these events are warm-up meets and the Federation Cup happening soon will see more participation and added that Das is on her way to full recovery and plans about her 400m participation will be done closer to the Summer Games.

(With PTI inputs)