Neeraj Chopra returns to international competition with gold medal in Lisbon meet

Neeraj Chopra, who threw a best of 83.18m, was competing at the Meeting Cidade de Lisboa in Portugal. Francisco Fernandes finished second with 57.25m.

By Ubaid Parkar

India’s Tokyo-bound javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra marked his return to the international stage for the first time in 18 months with a gold medal at a meet in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday.

In windy conditions, Neeraj Chopra threw the spear 83.18m for his best effort to win the Meeting Cidade de Lisboa. The Indian made six attempts in all at the Lisbon University Stadium and recorded throws of 80.71m and 78.50m. The other three throws were fouls.

Local Francisco Fernandes finished second with 57.25m. The six-man field included Portugal national champion Leandro Ramos, whose personal best is 80.81m.

Neeraj Chopra’s best came in his final throw. In his last competition at the third Indian Grand Prix in Patiala in March, the 23-year-old javelin ace broke the national record with an 88.07m throw.

In his last international outing at a domestic meet in Potchefstroom, South Africa in January last year, Neeraj Chopra recorded an 87.86m to qualify for Tokyo 2020. The Olympic cut is set at 85m.

Neeraj Chopra landed in Lisbon on Sunday after he was granted a visa for Europe late last month to compete in international events.

He is scheduled to take part in the Kladenské Memorial in the Czech Republic on June 15, the Marid Meeting in Spain on June 19, the Karlstad Grand Prix in Sweden on June 22 and the Kuortane Games in Finland on June 26.