Neeraj Chopra's Throw That Broke His Own National Record
Neeraj Chopra, India's superstar javelin thrower, made a spectacular return to competition after his historic gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, with a stunning throw of 89.30m shattering his national record and placing him second in a star-studded field at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland. Chopra's first competitive event after little over 10 months was nothing short of miraculous, as he nearly reached the desired 90m mark, which is regarded the gold standard in the world of javelin throw.
Chopra's previous national record was 88.07m, which he set in Patiala in March. On August 7, 2021, he won gold in the Tokyo Olympics with a throw of 87.58m.
He started with an amazing 86.92m and then sent the spear to 89.30m. His following three throws were all fouls, but his sixth and last throw was 85.85m.
Oliver Helander, 25, of Finland, who has a personal best of 88.02m and a season high of 80.36m, was the surprise gold winner with a best throw of 89.83m on his second try.
Chopra's 89.30m performance moves him up to sixth place in the global season leaderboard.
Anderson Peters of Grenada, the pre-event favourite after winning gold in the Doha Diamond League last month with a world-leading monster throw of 93.07m, finished third with a best attempt of 86.60m. This was Peters' first loss after seven straight victories this season.
Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago finished fourth with a best throw of 84.02m, followed by Germany's Julian Weber (84.02m) and Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch (83.91m), who won silver in Doha with a throw of 90.88m.
Chopra's opponent and buddy Johannes Vetter of Germany, who has the most 90m-plus throws among current javelin throwers, was scheduled to compete at the Paavo Nurmi Games but withdrew.
Chopra has previously stated in media interviews that he would not put himself under pressure to throw over 90m and would instead try to gradually build up to peak at the July 15-24 World Championships in Eugene, USA.
The games are named after the great Finnish middle and long distance runner Paavo Nurmi. It is a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold series tournament, and it is one of the most prestigious contests outside of the Diamond League Meetings.
The organisers of the sport have added an extra incentive for javelin throwers: anyone who throws further than the Finnish record of 93.09m will receive a Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV. Nobody won it on Tuesday, despite Peters saying in a lighter tone on Monday that he would go for it.
Over 10,000 individuals gathered to see the proceedings.
Chopra will compete in the Kourtane Games in Finland, where he is now living, on Saturday. On June 30, he will compete in the Diamond League in Stockholm. He had previously trained in the United States and Turkey before relocating to Finland last month.