Even though his gold winning throw (82.27m) at the National Federation athletics meet at the Kalinga Stadium here was not up to the mark due to the hot and humid conditions, World and Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra enjoyed competing in the country after three years in front of thousands of fans.

“As I had returned after competing in Doha (Diamond League), I was here after some long travel and my recovery was not that good. So, from the start I knew that my effort will be like how my body responds. That is why I didn’t take the last two throws. Also, I have to compete in Ostrava (May 28) next in less than two weeks,” said Chopra, who last won a gold medal with an 82m-plus throw in the 2016 South Asian Games where he equalled Rajinder Singh’s record (82.23m), after the event on Wednesday.

“It was a great feeling to compete in India after a long time. I’m happy to see so many people turning up to watch athletics.”

Chopra said he decided to compete in the Federation meet as the mandatory event, the National inter-state scheduled at Panchkula in June, was closer to the Olympics.

About the competitive field in javelin at the domestic level, the champion thrower said such a competition would raise the level of the sport.

“Remember the Germans. When (Andreas) Hofmann, (Thomas) Rohler, (Johannes) Vetter & (Julian) Webber competed, they used to push each other and they touched 90m in their nationals. So when they competed in Worlds and Diamond League, the Germans always used to finish first or second. Likewise, if we can push each other (I, Jena and Manu) and throw 85m plus we will enjoy competing together at the international meets,” he said.