New Delhi: Neeraj Chopra marked a memorable comeback to competitive throwing, registering a best throw of 87.86m - the second best throw of his career - to win the ACNW League Meeting in Potchefstroom, South Africa on Tuesday. With the throw, the reigning Commonwealth and Asian Games Champion became the first Indian javelin thrower to qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo this July-August. The Olympic qualifying standard was set by World Athletics at 85m.
This was the first competitive meet for Chopra, who missed out almost the entire 2019 season due to a surgery on his throwing arm in May and subsequent rehabilitation. After undergoing an elbow arthroscopy surgery on May 2, 2019, Chopra underwent rehabilitation at National Institute of Sport, Patiala and the Inspire Institute of Sport, Vijayangar, before shifting base to Potchefstroom, South Africa to train under coach Klaus Bartonietz in November last year."I am extremely pleased with the performance. Going into the competition, I did not try to put much pressure on myself and was keen to test myself out as it was my first meet in a long time. The warm-up throws went very well, and even though my first three throws were around the 81-82m mark, I felt there were some flaws I could work on," Chopra said from Potchefstroom after the meet.
87.86 mtrFeeling super awesome to be back in the competition mode.Thank you everyone for your good wishes and supporting me always🙏जय हिंद 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/gO8iCMG8Di— Neeraj Chopra (@Neeraj_chopra1) January 28, 2020
"This was a major target for me during my rehab and I'm happy to have qualified. I will now get back to my regular training here in Potchefstroom with my coach and physio in a few days' time and continue my training towards the Olympics. I will look to compete more in the coming months and am looking forward to more high quality competition at the Federation Cup and the Diamond League circuit."
"It's been a difficult time over the past year, but I knew I was preparing myself to come back stronger. I am extremely grateful for all the support and guidance I've received from all quarters and I am committed to come back stronger and make the country proud."
At the meet held on Tuesday at the McArthur Stadium, Neeraj registered throws of 81.63m, 82.00m and 82.57m in his first three throws, before unleashing the throw that earned him his qualification. His compatriot Rohit Yadav, who is training for the U20 World Championships later this year, also had a successful outing with a best throw of 77.61m.