The 23-year-old switched to a new javelin for the tournament.

Neeraj Chopra warmed the hearts of Indian athletics fans with a national record throw of 88.07m on his return to the competitive fray after more than a year in the Indian Grand Prix III at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports on Friday. His best throw was a centimetre better than the record he set in the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.

Each of his four legal throws were better than the 81.63m that Shivpal Singh (Uttar Pradesh) managed with his fifth attempt on a day when the wind added to the challenge of the throwers.

“There was a strong wind today and I have little experience of throwing in such windy conditions. My favourite Javelin was gaining much elevation in the wind. I then used another Javelin and focused on getting a good release. I didn’t feel I used much power with the fifth throw that went past the record,” said Neeraj Chopra.

“It feels good to be competing again after a long spell for the second time, first because of my injury and then because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I am hopeful of giving off my best in all competitions and doing well for the country in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. I will do the best to take Indian athletics to new heights.”

There were other quality performances that drew the attention of the critics and fans. Amoj Jacob improved upon his personal best in the 400m yet again by stopping the clock at 45.70 seconds, a good three-tenths of a second faster than the time he had clocked in Indian Grand Prix II last week.

Shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor breached the 20m mark and Long Jumper M Sreeshankar showed consistency by hitting sand at 7.91m after having past 8m last week. In the 200m sprint, Muhammed Anas Yahiya clocked 21.48 seconds to sustain his speed work as part of his preparations for the 400m while Steeplechaser Avinash Sable showed good form to clock 8:24.40.

In the women’s events, Javelin Thrower Annu Rani tryst with throws in excess of 60m continued as she produced a best of 61.98m on Friday. She had another effort of 61.96m while four other throws were below the 60m mark. And, there was 400m-800m double for M R Poovamma while Hima Das, running alone, clocked a personal best time of 11.67 seconds in the 100m.