Happier with 8.09m in Paris than 8.41m in Bhubaneswar, says Sreeshankar

His stunning long jump at Inter-State Nationals is equal to a 9.94s 100m!

Published : Jun 21, 2023 18:58 IST , Kochi - 3 MINS READ

India’s Sreeshankar in action during the men’s long jump event at the Paris Diamond League.
India’s Sreeshankar in action during the men’s long jump event at the Paris Diamond League. | Photo Credit: REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

India’s Sreeshankar in action during the men’s long jump event at the Paris Diamond League. | Photo Credit: REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

With the long jump event at the recent Diamond League happening late at night, M. Sreeshankar missed watching Simon Ehammer make Swiss history in Oslo, but he had a close look at the action on Instagram the next morning.

Sreeshankar, the World No. 8, had to skip Oslo – where Ehammer became the first Swiss male to win a Diamond League title – as he had to be in Bhubaneswar for the Inter-State Nationals that began the same day, June 15.

The Athletics Federation of India exempted only two athletes, Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and Commonwealth Games silver medallist steeplechaser Avinash Sable from competing in Bhubaneswar.

Only a week prior, Sreeshankar made history when he became the first Indian long jumper and third athlete from the country to finish in the top three in a Diamond League event, with a third place in Paris, where he finished behind Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou and Ehammer.

Sreeshankar did not grumble or groan about the Oslo miss but he made it clear how precious the Paris Diamond League finish was to him.

READ: Inter-State Athletics Championships Review: Tajinderpal Singh Toor, Jyothi Yarraji shine as athletes brave heatwave

“I’m more happy with my 8.09m in Paris than the 8.41m here (in Bhubaneswar),” said the Commonwealth Games silver medallist in a chat with Sportstar. Incidentally, India has the world’s top two long jumpers this year, with Inter-State Nationals’ gold medallist Sreeshankar’s 8.41m, which came in the qualification round, being the second best long jump in the world this year. It was just a centimetre behind 2023 world leader Jeswin Aldrin’s 8.42m, which had come in Ballari in March. Jeswin took the silver in Bhubaneswar with 7.98m.

“According to dad, technique-wise 8.41 was the best one I had in my life. Everything was perfect. I was very good in the approach. Was in proper sync. I took it easy that day and due to humid conditions, we changed our warm-up strategy,” said Sreeshankar.

Sreeshankar’s 8.41m equal to a 9.94s 100m!

To get an idea how big Sreeshankar’s jump is and for a comparative study, one may pore over the World Athletics’ scoring table, which offers points for all its events. It gives 1227 points for his 8.41 m, which is equal to a 9.94s 100m (Amiya Kumar Mallick’s National record 10.26s), an 8:06.81s steeple chase (Avinash Sable’s NR 8:11.20s), a 17.58m triple jump (Praveen Chithravel’s NR 17.37m), and an 88.80m javelin throw (Chopra’s NR 89.94m).

Clearly Sreeshankar, currently the country’s best athlete after Neeraj Chopra, belongs to the big stage. There is no point in asking him to compete in domestic championships when he is in the form of his life and looks capable of raising the bar for Indian athletics in some of the world’s best meets.

With the Paris Olympics coming up next year, Indian athletics stands to gain immensely if it gives Sreeshankar and his dad-cum-coach S. Murali a free hand to train and compete abroad. He could even bring an Olympic medal from Paris.

ALSO READ: Asian Games 2022: Full list of athletes who have achieved Asiad qualification mark at Inter-State Athletics Championships

Now, after missing Oslo, Sreeshankar’s next big task will be to do well in the next two Diamond League meetings in Lausanne (June 30) and Zurich (August 31) so that he can qualify for the Diamond League Finals in Eugene in September.

Chopra won the javelin throw Diamond League Trophy last year. What are Sreeshankar’s chances of pulling off a similar act?

“First, I need to have enough points for the finals (laughs). Already missed Oslo... should do well in Lausanne and Zurich,” he said.

A few years ago, one would not even have dreamed of asking athletes such questions. But Chopra’s Olympic gold has made us think big. And Sreeshankar is now slowly being acknowledged as one of the world’s best long jumpers by the event’s elite.

“Tentoglou told me in Paris that I will jump 8.40-plus at the National Championship,” revealed Sreeshankar.

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