BHUBANESWAR: Kalinga Stadium seems to be a happy hunting ground for long jumper M Sreeshankar. It was at this very venue that he had broken the 8 metre barrier in 2018. On Sunday, he soared even higher. The Kerala athlete jumped a massive 8.41m in the men’s long jump event of the ongoing the 62nd National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championship to grab the attention of many.
That effort, which is now his personal best, is incidentally just one centimetre shy of compatriot Jeswin Aldrin’s world-leading mark of 8.42m, which is also a national record. He might have missed the national record but this is a huge lift for Sreeshankar as his effort, which he produced during the preliminary round, was well over the World Championships qualification mark of 8.25m. The World Championships is due to be held from August 19 to 27 in Budapest. This effort is also well over the Asian Games qualifying mark of 7.95m set by the Athletics Federation of India.
His father and coach, S Murali, is a delighted man. It was a timely boost as this had coincided with Father’s Day and just ahead of bigger events. Murali is expecting him to keep up the momentum in the finals. “He could do better in the final,” he said. Talking about future events, Murali, a former triple jumper himself, stressed on the importance of planning.
“Being an athlete, I understand how to cope up with different weather conditions. Based on that, I had planned a schedule for Sreeshankar. The diet also plays a major role in your career. A Spanish dietician guides him on a day-to-day basis,” he said. Speaking about schedule, the coach also confirmed that Sreeshankar will be taking part in the Asian Athletics Championships which is due to be held in Thailand from July 12 to 16.
While Sreeshankar and Murali had a memorable day, Jeswin could only produce a best jump of 7.83m. Muhammed Anees Yahiya is also among 12 athletes in the final, which is expected to be a major attraction on Monday. In the women’s corresponding event, Ancy Sojan produced an effort of 6.49m to better the Asian Games qualification mark of 6.45m. Rising star Shaili Singh produced an effort of 6.27m to make it to the final along with Ancy. Nayana James was sandwiched between the two at second spot with an effort of 6.31m. The final promises to be an exciting one.
Away from the jumping arena, as many as three javelin throwers hurled the spears past the Asian Games qualification mark of 78.23m. Odisha’s Kishore Kumar Jena was the topper with an effort of 79.96m. Shivpal (79.35m) and Anuj Kalera (79.04m) finished second and third, respectively.