GUNTUR: Tejaswin Shankar, 18, from Delhi was hoping to break the men’s high jump record of 2.3m at the National Inter-State Sports Meet in Guntur on Monday. He couldn’t, as his effort of 2.23m earned him a consolatory meet-best mark instead. That’s not the whole story, though. There was rain when he competed. That, and him being bedridden from January to June after suffering a slip disc. After reading this, a temptation to scratch out “consolatory” from the second line and replace it with “valiant” wouldn’t be unwarranted.
“I am just recovering from a slip disc. I was bed-ridden for six months from January to June. There have been times when I thought I couldn’t make it here. But here I am, all smiles and I could break the meet record of 2.23m. My sponsors JSW Sports and coach had faith in me. If not for them I would still have been bed-ridden. My coach believes that I can jump even if am missing a leg,” he said. “An athlete’s life is generally considered over once he/she has an injury as severe as mine.”
“While leaving my hotel room, I was cursing the rain gods as it was raining continuously. I was really hoping to break the national record and was very apprehensive of how I’d do it due to the rains.”
Ask him about what expectations he had from this competition and he says that he had four goals before coming here- to get a gold medal, break the meet record, break the national record and lastly to jump 2.3m.
“Am elated that I could achieve the first two. It’s not like I didn’t try for the others, I just couldn’t break the national record and jump 2.3 metres as it was raining. But, I cannot crib as the conditions were the same for everyone,” he said with a slight disappointment in his voice. “My personal best is 2.26 metres which I have managed to break today.”
Speaking of familial support, grief could be seen in his eyes as he said: “My dad died when I was young. My mom made me what I am. She has taken care of my sister, my grandma and I. They have been the ones who have taken care of me. I am the exact opposite of the quintessential alpha male.”