Tamil Nadu’s Jeswin Aldrin won a thrilling long jump duel with Kerala’s Murali Sreeshankar on Day 2 of the Federation Cup athletics meet in Kozhikode, Kerala. Both went beyond Sreeshankar’s national record of 8.26m to register the farthest two jumps in the event by Indians. In fact, the competition saw nine 8-metre plus jumps, four by Aldrin.
Still Aldrin, 20, will have to be satisfied only with gold as his second jump of 8.37m had a tailwind of 4.1 metres/second. The permissible tailwind in sprints and jumps is 2 m/s. It will thus not be considered as a national record. Sreeshankar produced a best of 8.36m, .01m short of Aldrin’s effort. But it came with a legal tailwind.
The national mark will thus stay with Sreeshankar, who jumped 8.26m at Patiala in March last year. The Athletics federation website indicates the attempt awaits formal ratification. He also has a ratified 8.20m against his name.
“Jeswin Aldrin’s 8.37m was not a legal one and so will not be counted for record purposes and for any qualification. But his 8.26m (in his fourth attempt) was legal and so he has also qualified for the world championships,” Indian athletics chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair told PTI. “Sreeshankar’s 8.36m will be the new national record (if ratified) as it was a legal one.”
The contest between Sreeshankar, 23, and Aldrin was one of the most anticipated of Day 2. Aldrin entered the 8m club less than a month back, clearing 8.20m in the Indian GP I in Thiruvananthapuram last month. The jumper from the port town of Thoothukudi went a long way further at the CH Muhammed Koya Stadium on Sunday.
Tokyo Olympian Sreeshankar opened with 8.16m and Aldrin touched 8.01m. The Tokyo Olympian fouled the next attempt and Aldrin produced 8.37m. Aldrin had five legal jumps while Sreeshankar recorded only three though all breached 8m.
“He has been in good form. This was just his third competition post Olympics, he has had a great start to the saeson,” S Murali, Sreeshankar’s father and coach, said. Sreeshankar though managed only a sub-8 metre effort at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade. He cleared 7.92m, a national indoor record, to come seventh.
Murali had expected his son to rewrite the national record. “He exceeded my expectations. To go over 8.30 is superb. This shows he has the potential to become world-class.”
The 8.36m would have won Sreeshankar bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, where he was eliminated in the qualifying round with a best of 7.69m. Cuba’s Maykel Massó took bronze at 8.21m.
Muhammed Anees Yahiya, silver medallist at last month’s Indian Open National Jumps Competition in Thiruvananthapuram with a personal best of 8.15m, cleared 8.06m to finish third.
In a packed athletics calendar with World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, these are interesting times for Indian jumpers. “It is an encouraging sign for Indian athletics. Jeswin has been in good form too, and it was great to see Sree and Jeswin pushing each other,” said Murali, a former triple jumper.
“Sreeshankar can surely go further than this (8.36m). He is yet to hit his peak performance, and he’ll certainly get better with more international exposure,” he added. The Sreeshankars are now planning a training-cum-competition trip to Europe next month, with Greece, Spain, or Portugal being their preferred destinations.