The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) announced on Sunday that long jumper Jeswin Aldrin has been included in the athletics squad for the World Championships. Aldrin, 20, who made the best -- albeit wind-assisted jump of 8.36m -- by an Indian long jumper at the Federation Cup in April this year, had initially not been included in the squad named on June 30.
The exclusion of Aldrin, who also had a wind-legal jump of 8.26m at the Federation Cup, had come as a major surprise since he was one of just 12 athletes (of the 32 who compete at the Worlds) to have directly met the qualification standards (8.22m) for the World Championships. Aldrin was the first Indian athlete to have been denied a chance to compete at the World Championships despite directly qualifying for the competition.
The AFI initially justified its decision to exclude Aldrin from the World Championships citing the fact that his performance had slipped since the Federation Cup. AFI president Adille Sumariwalla had noted that Aldrin’s had jumped only 7.51m at the Inter-State Championships in June.
However, the AFI subsequently allowed Aldrin to take part in two selection trials that were held in Thiruvananthapuram and Patiala. According to the AFI, Aldrin needed to jump “close to” 8.10m to be considered for selection. Alrdin managed to jump 7.99m in Thiruvananthapuram on July 4. He then recorded a jump of 7.93m in hot and muggy conditions at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala on 8th July.
“We have decided to give him the chance to compete in the World Championships after he jumped 7.99m in the first trial and 7.93m in Patiala,” Sumariwalla said.
Although the AFI had initially required Aldrin to jump close to 8.10m, in a release on Sunday, the national body said Aldrin had got the nod after leaping close to 8.00m. “AFI president Adille J. Sumariwalla said Jeswin Aldrin got the nod after he had leapt close to 8.00 m in the two confirmatory trials at Thiruvananthapuram and Patiala,” the release read.