Potchefstroom, Jan 29: Star Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a throw of 87.86m at the Athletics Central North East meeting in South Africa, making a magnificent return to the circuit after recovering from an elbow injury.
The 22-year-old Indian breached the Olympic qualification mark of 85m in his fourth attempt and secured the top place at the international event here on Tuesday.
Neeraj threw the spear to 81.76m at the start and kept improving with every throw. He managed 82m in his second attempt and 82.57 in the third.
"Feeling super awesome to be back in the competition mode. Thank you everyone for your good wishes and supporting me always," tweeted Neeraj, who has now secured India's fourth Olympics quota in athletics.
Meanwhile, another Indian, Rohit Yadav threw 77.61m to finish second.
The elbow injury had forced Neeraj to miss competitive action for most part of 2019. He had missed the IAAF World Championships, the Diamond League and the Asian Championships while recovering from the injury.
Neeraj's last major international competition was the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games where he won gold with a national record of 88.06m.
The Indian had undergone a surgery in May 2019 to treat the injury. He was expected to participate in the National Open Athletics Championship late last year, but the AFI decided to allow Neeraj more time to get competition ready.
Earlier, national record holder KT Irfan had became the first Indian from athletics to qualify for the 2020 Olympics when he finished fourth in the 20km event of the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan in March 2019.
Avinash Sable (men's 3000m steeplechase) and country's mixed 4x400m relay team had also qualified for the Games at the Doha World Championships last year. (UNI)