Star Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra shattered his own national record by clearing a distance of 87.43m en route finishing fourth in a star-studded field in the season opening Diamond League series meeting here.
Neeraj, who recently won a gold in the Commonwealth Games with a throw of 86.47m, was up against Olympic champion Thomas Rohler, world champion Johannes Vetter and Andreas Hoffman, all Germans and all in the 90m club, but the 22-year-old Indian was not intimidated as he sent the spear to 87.43m in his second attempt last night to better his earlier national mark of 86.48m.
In the process, Neeraj beat 2017 London World Championships silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic, who finished fifth with a best throw of 86.67m.
Neeraj had the earlier national record of 86.48m when he won the gold in the 2016 World Junior Championships in Poland. That mark is also the existing world junior record.
Just after winning gold in the Gold Coast CWG, he had said that he would like to be in the 90m club―the gold standard mark in javelin―soon. Even Vetter had predicted that Neeraj should be able to throw between 88m to 90m this year itself.
Today's performance showed that Neeraj has been improving this season.
He began with a 81.17m, then came up with 87.43m before fouling his next three attempts. He had a 81.06m in his sixth and last throw.
Rohler won the gold with a best throw of 91.78m which he came up in his second attempt. Vetter was second with 91.56m while Hoffman was third with 90.08m as Germans swept all the top three spots.
Neeraj will next take part in the Eugene (United States) leg of the Diamond League series on May 26 and there again he will be up against Rohler, Vetter, Hoffman and Vadlejch.