Olympics: Sreeshankar qualifies for Tokyo Games, sets national record in long-jump

Indian long jumper Murali Sreeshankar jumped 8.26m to create a national record at the Senior Federation Cup on Tuesday; 8.20m was his previous best.

Sreeshankar jumped 8.26m at the Senior Federation Cup on Tuesday, and earned himself a berth at the Tokyo Olympics.   -  FILE PHOTO/APP

For almost three years, Murali Sreeshankar had been battling disappointment, frustration and questions on his ability.

On Tuesday, the long jumper silenced them all, qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics with an 8.26m jump that evoked a rare scream from the usually mild-mannered athlete on Day Two of the Federation Cup. The 21-year old betted his own 2018 National Record of 8.20m and admitted it was a mix of emotions.

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Proving a point

“It’s been a long wait after 2018, 2019 was a rough year and 2020 was the COVID year. For a long time, a lot of people had been saying 8.20 was my peak and I took it personally. There was a point to prove and I am glad I did it,” said an ecstatic Sreeshankar.

Through the lockdown, Sreeshankar kept training at home, within a bubble, with his cousins. “I dedicate this achievement to them. When everything was closed, they trained with me and it would not have been possible without them or my father,” he said.

He was also honest enough in his assessment of the road ahead. “When I did 8.20 my calibre was 8-8.10m at best. But I believe my ability at the moment is 8.40m. I am slowly getting into the rhythm and having all jumps over 8m today is a great sign because the competition out there is very tough. One occasional jump of 8.26 will not be enough to sustain, I need to stay in the 8.20-plus mark consistently,” he explained.

The big showdown in the women’s 100m did not materialise with Hima Das disqualified for a false start and Dutee Chand finishing second behind Dhanalakshmi — her first defeat in the event since 2015.

The men’s 400m, won by Amoj Jacob, too was a dampener with National record holder Mohd. Anas withdrawing from competition due to a niggle.

The results

Men: 100m: 1. Gurindervir Singh (Pun, 10.32s), 2. Elakkiyadasan Kannadasan (TN, 10.43s), 3. Krishnakumar Satish Rai (Mah, 10.56s); 400m: 1. Amoj Jacob (Del, 45.68s), 2. Naganathan Pandi (TN, 46.09s), 3. S. Arokia Rajiv (TN, 46.52s); 1500m: 1. Ajay Kumar Saroj (UP, 3:45.61), 2. Harendra Kumar (Del, 3:46.28), 3. Manjit Singh (Har, 3:47.22); Long jump: 1. M. Sreeshankar (Ker, 8.26m; NR, Old: 8.20, 2018), 2. Mohd. Anees Yahiya (Ker, 8m), 3. S. Lokesh (Kar, 7.60m); Decathlon: 1. Usaid Khan (UP, 6820 pts), 2. Navjor Singh (Pun, 6649), 3. Umesh Lamba (Raj, 6632).

Women: 100m: 1. Dhanalakshmi (TN, 11.39s), 2. Dutee Chand (Odi, 11.58s), 3. Archana Suseendran (TN, 11.76s); 400m: 1. Poovamma Raju (Kar, 53.57s), 2. Subha Venkatesan (TN, 54.48), 3. Kiran Pahal (Har, 54.55); 1500m: 1. Harmilan Bains (Pun, 4:08.70), 2. Chitra PU (Ker, 4:17.56), 3. Durga Deore (Mah, 4:27.87).

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