India's top javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra bettered his own national record by 0.01 metere as the 23-year-old hurled the spear at a distance of 88.07 metre at the Indian Grand Prix's third leg in Patiala on Friday.
Neeraj, who is one of India's top-most contender for an Olympic medal at the upcoming event in Tokyo, was taking part in his first event in more than a year after the Covid-induced break.
The 23-year-old kicked-off the proceedings with 83.03m in his first attempt, before conceding two foul throws. He then threw 83.36m, before smashing his own record in his fifth attempt and then concluded with a final throw was 82.24m.
Neeraj clinched the gold despite the conditions not being very friendly due to strong winds in Patiala but the Asian Games gold medalist feels he still needs improvement in order to compete in the international circuit, considering the standard of the competition.
#NeerajChopra The record throw in pics 88.07m
New National Record
Previous Record- Neeraj Chopra 88.06m (Asian Games 2018)
— Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) March 5, 2021
"Today there was strong wind but Nordic Sports (company) has brought out a new javelin which is very good for competition in wind if released properly. I used it in my fifth throw and it went very well though I did not feel I had given my best but it was a very good throw in the end," Neeraj said while addressing a virtual press conference from Patiala.
Neeraj also emphasised on international events that the 23-year-old would look to take part in ahead of the Tokyo Games, stating that it will ease out the pressue against his top competitors.
"I look forward to participate in 5-6 international events before entering the Olympics as it will help me prepare well. I had earlier taken part in the Diamond League, which helped me a lot preparing against the top-notch javelin throwers across the world," the Panipat-based athlete added.
Responding to a question on how the pandemic hampered his training, Neeraj said, "The pandemic did disrupt the training for at least 2-3 months with the stadiums not being accessible. However, it was not very difficult to get back to training as I tried to keep myself fit by training in a park."
The 23-year-old further stated that it was his return from injury that worried him more as he had very little idea if his body would meet the physical aspects required in the sport.
Apart from Neeraj, Shivpal Singh (81.63m) and 20-year-old Sahil Silwal (80.65m) stood at the second and third position respectively.
Adille Sumariwalla, the president of Athletics Federation of India, who was also present for the media address lauded all the three javelin throwers and said that the sports body is working on ways so the Indian athletes can take part in international competition ahead of the showpiece event in Tokyo, which is scheduled to be held in July-August.
He said all the necessary steps are being taken keeping the ongoing pandemic and the safety of athletes in mind.