“I am looking to put more effort in the next couple of events where the competition is expected to be good. I am happy with the way my training is going,” said the 23-year-old Neeraj Chopra after a throw of 83.18m in Portugal

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By HT Correspondent

PUBLISHED ON JUN 11, 2021 08:47 PM IST

Neeraj Chopra marked his international comeback with a throw of 83.18m to win gold at a low-key City of Lisbon meet in Portugal on Thursday. It was Chopra’s first event overseas since qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in South Africa in January 2020 with a throw of 87.86.

Chopra, India’s top medal hope for Tokyo Olympics, said he treated it as a warm up event and preparation towards bigger meets in Sweden and Finland in the coming weeks. Chopra, his coach Klaus Bartonietz and physio Ishaan Marwah reached Portugal five days ago.

“There was less time to prepare for this meet. We checked the start list and decided not to go all out. My coach told me to take this competition as training,” Chopra said on Friday.

“I am looking to put more effort in the next couple of events where the competition is expected to be good. I am happy with the way my training is going,” said the 23-year-old.

He is expected to compete in Karlstad, Sweden from June 22 and another event in Kuortane, Finland on June 26. He will then train in Uppsala, Sweden. Chopra will be hoping to get a UK visa for the most important competition –Diamond League in London on July 13 — before the Tokyo Olympics.

“It has been a long time since I have participated in an international meet, so it is important for that feeling to come back.”

He will train in Portugal for the next 10 days at Juventude Vidigalense athletics club.

At the Lisbon University Stadium in Portugal on Thursday, Chopra opened with a throw of 80.71m, reached 78.50 in his fourth attempt and got his best of 83.13m in the final and sixth round. In between he had three foul throws. There was no competition for Chopra as the next best finish was a throw of 72.46 from Leandro Ramos of Portugal.

Chopra had a season best and national record of 88.07m at the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala in March. His travel for competition abroad ran into problem as European countries had put several restrictions on Indians because of second wave of COVID in the country. He was scheduled to fly out to Turkey in April, but that did not happen.

His eagerly-awaited return to international competition drew large number of Indian fans to the live stream Thursday night and Chopra said he was happy.

“There were lot of comments on the live stream. Normally you don’t see that in Indian athletics. I felt good and I will try to lift my performance and give my best in the Olympics,” said Chopra.