KOCHI: COMPETING in what was his first tournament in almost one-and-a-half-year, long jumper M Sreeshankar breached the eight-metre mark at the Indian Grand Prix-2 in Patiala on Thursday. The 21-year-old produced a jump of 8.05m in his last attempt.
"It took a while to get into the rhythm since I was competing after a long time. There were a lot of variations in my run-up and jump because I was jumping at this pit after three years," said Sreeshankar whose personal best is 8.20m.
The Olympic qualification mark is 8.22m and Sreeshankar, who was struggling to even touch the 8m mark back in 2019, feels that he will be more consistent once competitions resume on a regular basis.
"Back in 2019, all my jumps were in the 7.90m range and then there were no competitions in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now that I'm getting the opportunity to compete, it's all falling into place. I feel I'll be at my best by the time the Federation Cup arrives and we'll see how things go from there."
The Kerala athlete is hoping to make an Olympic cut next week at IGP-3. "I had put in a lot of hard work when there were no events and the results are there to see. Olympic qualification is now the primary target and I hope it happens as early as next week at IGP-3," he said.
No Dutee-Hima showdown
The much-anticipated face-off between Dutee Chand and Hima Das in the 100m event did not happen as Hima pulled out of the event at the last moment. However, both the sprinters picked up a gold each with Dutee winning the 100m dash while Hima coming out on top in the 200m event.
Dutee clocked 11.44 seconds to finish ahead of Karnataka's Daneshwari A (11.89sec). Hima won the 200m sprint with an impressive timing of 23.31 seconds but fell short of the Olympic qualifying mark of 22.80 seconds.
The 200m men's event saw Tamil Nadu's S Arokia Rajiv (21.21 seconds) pip national record holder Muhammed Anas (21.44 seconds) to the top position. There were no surprises in the shot put event as Jakarta Asian Games champion Tejinderpal Singh Toor walked away with the gold.
Tejinder threw 19.49m in his first competition since the World Military Games in October 2019. Though not close to his national record of 20.92m or the Olympic qualification mark of 21.10m, his team, however, felt this was not a bad start considering that the shot putter was coming back from injury. It is learnt that he had started training in January and aiming to get his rhythm back. Toor may skip the third leg and next compete in the Federation Cup.
Meanwhile, ace javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who was listed for the second leg, did not compete much to the disappointment of fans. The IGP-3 is scheduled for March 5 at the same venue.