Ace Indian javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will return to competition on foreign soil after nearly 18 months on Thursday when he competes at the Meeting Cidade de Lisboa here.
The 2018 Jakarta Asian Games champion in javelin throw was last seen in action in January last year, at the South African domestic meet in Potchefstroom, South Africa, where he threw the javelin to 87.86m to beat the Tokyo Olympic qualification mark of 85m.
Thereafter, Chopra, 23, couldn’t compete at the international level due to the Covid pandemic.
In April, Chopra was supposed to travel to Europe for a training-cum-competition stint. But he was denied visa by several European nations due to escalating coronavirus cases in India and restriction on Indians travelling there.
Last week, Chopra secured visa to travel to France and then he moved to Portugal to compete in the local competition, to be held on the Portuguese National Day, June 10.
Thursday’s event will feature five Portuguese throwers who are also aiming to qualify for the Olympics.
Since Chopra has the season best of 88.07m throw among the five competitors in Thursday’s event, it would be a sort of practice competition for the Indian thrower.
In March, Chopra had improved his national record to 88.07m during a domestic meet in Patiala.