As he got up off the high jump mat for the last time at Budapest’s National stadium, Sarvesh Kushare wore a wry smile on his face. He had very nearly cleared a height of 2.25m that would allowed him to continue in the qualification round of the men’s high jump at the World Championships. He had actually managed to take his torso cleanly over the bar too, but fractions of a second before he could go all the way over, the very last bit of his heel clipped the bar. It wasn’t a particularly hard nudge but just enough to bring it toppling down and, with it, India’s hopes on the second day of the athletics World Championships.
The 28-year-old who had cleared 2.26m to win silver at the Asian Championships last month, looked in good touch early. He made the opening height of 2.14m in two attempts and then cleared 2.22m in his first.
While he came close to clearing the bar at 2.25m on his last two attempts of the competition, Kushare would still have had an uphill challenge, even if he had left the bar undisturbed.
Indeed the jumpers only seemed to be getting stronger as the bar was raised. While nine athletes fell with the height set at 2.25m, just five failed to clear the next height to which the bar was raised. The top 12 athletes who made the final all cleared 2.28m – the highest qualification cut-off since the 2015 World Championships.
Despite the near miss, Kushare, who finished 20 th overall out of 33 competitors, wasn’t too upset about his performance. He was close to pushing his personal best and he insisted he would be only the wiser for his maiden experience at the World championships.
“It was a little strange,” he said about his debut. “When we compete in India, the height starts a lot lower and then takes a long time to get to 2.14m. Even an increase of a couple of centimetres feels like a mountain. Here, the height is raised in jumps of four and five centimetres. It was a new experience, but I didn’t feel that it was too much, I was feeling good about how I was jumping and my body was moving well as well. The track was fast and I felt good but I just didn’t get the jump that I wanted,” he says.
Kushare said he would be focussing on the competitions ahead. “This was a good learning experience for me. It will definitely help me in my preparation for the Asian Games (in Hangzhou next month)
Judging by the performances by Asian athletes in Budapest, Kushare will likely have his task cut out in Hangzhou too. Japan’s Roichi Akamatsu, Qatar’s Olympic champion Mutaz Barshim and South Korea’s Sanghyeok Woo all made the final with clearances of 2.28m, while another Japanese – Naoto Hasegawa – finished ahead of the Indian with a clearance of 2.25m.
Also in for disappointment was Tamilarasan Santosh who clocked a time of 50.46 seconds to drop out of contention for the semifinals of the men’s 400m hurdles. Running in the cornermost ninth lane in his heat, that also featured Olympic champion Karsten Warholm, Tamilarasan needed to make the first four to automatically advance but was never in contention.
Santosh, had clocked a personal best and the second best time by an Indian of 49.09m at the Asian Championships last month, but even a repeat of that performance would not have been enough to take him to the next day’s competition with the last qualifier to the semis clocking a time of 49.05 seconds.
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