Switching from ‘favourite’ javelin to a new model helped Neeraj Chopra break national record

A switch to a new javelin from his ‘old favourite’ helped Neeraj Chopra set a new national mark in the men’s javelin throw on return to competition after a year. In his fifth attempt Chopra, in a fluorescent green top and sporting a long mane, improved the national mark by a centimetre to 88.07 metres, a timely show of form with the Tokyo Olympics just months away.

Chopra, like most javelin throwers, has a sense of how far he has thrown even before the javelin lands. On Friday, Chopra didn’t show any emotion immediately after the spear left his hand.

Owing to technical difficulties (four cameras), the flight of the javelin was not telecast to viewers during the live streaming of the men’s event on the Athletics Federation of India’s YouTube channel.

The confirmation of a new national record came a minute later on the electronic display board, before an official announcement.

The distance achieved with Nordic Sport javelin, despite strong winds (from the left) at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, perhaps surprised Chopra too.

“There was a strong wind today. Earlier (rounds) I threw with a javelin which is my favourite. That gains a good height. But now Nordic Sport has brought out a new javelin. It helps when you throw in windy conditions if you release it well. I decided to throw with the new javelin (Nordic) in the fifth throw. I didn’t even feel like I had thrown with so much power but it was a very good throw. With experience I am sure I can throw better,” Chopra said after the event.

Indian javelin throwers, especially Chopra and Shivpal Singh — both have qualified for the Olympics — have been experimenting with the latest version of the Nordic Sport carbon javelins. Chopra has been using the Nemeth make, but seems to have slowly taken a liking for the Nordic Sport model, which is unforgiving to less-than-perfect techniques.

It’s advantage: vibration free flight path in headwinds and greater distance if the throwing technique and release is good.

Foreign coach Uwe Hohn, the only thrower to cross 100 metres, is a strong believer that athletes must adapt during a competition. He listed out the reasons why throwers can benefit when using the right javelin according to conditions.

“Javelins are made for different capabilities of athletes and wind conditions. Javelins are also built differently (shape, material) and therefore are also different in stiffness. Some are better for headwind like Nordic and others are good with tailwind like Nemeth. Choosing the right javelin will help athletes improve,” Hohn said.