Neeraj Chopra breaks national record in first competition since Olympics

Neeraj Chopra will be in action in the World Championships and Commonwealth Games in 2022. Michael Steele/Getty Images

In a field packed with the world's best, including world leader Andersen Peters (93.07m), Neeraj Chopra showed that the only change in the year or so of inactivity since that day in Tokyo is the length of his hair and the fact that he can now throw his javelin further than ever before.

At the Paavo Nurmi games in Finland, in his first competitive event since the Olympics, Chopra sprinted out, flung the javelin with a mighty yell and recorded 86.92m - a full two and a half metres further than any of his compatriots have managed all year. Then, on attempt two, he obliterated his own national record with 89.30m.

Chopra hadn't competed for nearly a year. In fact, he'd barely trained, having spent so much of those 11 months off at felicitation ceremonies.

Throwing better than you ever have doesn't guarantee ultimate victory, though. In this instance, at the 2022 Paavo Nurmi games, Finland's Oliver Helander threw a personal best of 89.83m in front of his home crowd to win gold ahead of Chopra. On his last throw, Chopra turned to the crowd with the javelin in mid-flight, index fingers pointing at the sky (just as he had in Tokyo), but soon realised that it had gone a 'mere' 85.85m. Silver, then.

But it's not the colour of the medal that matters for Chopra at this moment.

With the World Championships (early July) and the Commonwealth Games (late July) coming up along with the regular Diamond League meets, the new national record and the two other 85m+ throws served as a reminder to the field, and himself, that his Olympic gold was just the start.

89.30m is now the closest he has come to joining that elite 90m club and will give him tangible belief that his next great goal is well within touching distance.