The 23-year-old from Palakkad, Kerala had recently finished seventh in the 2022 World Athletics Championships. He had done the same at the World Indoor Athletics, World Junior Athletics and finished fifth in several national and international events and hence, Sreeshankar was not worried about finding himself in the same position on Thursday.
The long jumper won a historic first silver medal in slightly chilly and windy conditions, which Suresh Babu won in 1978 in Edmonton, Canada. It was also the biggest medal in Sreeshankar’s career that redeemed him and made up for all the setbacks he faced in recent times, such as missing the 2018 Commonwealth Games due to surgery and failure to qualify for the finals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Sreeshankar has endured so much over the years that he no longer sees himself staring at another gloom. Sreeshankar had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a superb jump of 8.26m, but fared badly in the Japanese capital, attempting a low of 7.69 after going into the event weeks after suffering from health issues. failed to qualify for the finals. his fitness.
“I’ve got a lot of experience living in that situation. I’ve learned a lot from those experiences, so I wasn’t worried. I know I’m a leaper—that I’ll take a big leap to sort things out.” ,” Sreeshankar said on Thursday.
One of India’s biggest hopes in international track and field, along with high jumper Tejaswin Shankar, after Tokyo Olympic javelin throw gold medalist Neeraj Chopra, Sreeshankar made a move to jump from seventh to top during the Federation Cup a few months ago. Had a big jump and won the title.
At the Alexander Stadium here on Thursday, Sreeshankar took a spectacular leap of faith on his fifth turn, covering 8.08m to go from seventh to joint first with Lakhan Nair of the Bahamas, who improved 7.94 to 7.84. Had a second jump. of Indian.
In his sixth and last attempt in the men’s long jump final on Thursday evening, Murali Sreeshankar came up with a giant jump but was declared a foul by a narrow margin and had to settle for a silver medal.
It was a tough contest as the four jumpers were separated by just three centimeters – the Bahamas’ Nair and Sreeshankar were on 8.08, South Africa’s Jovan van Vuren was third with 8.06, while Jamaica’s Shaun-dee Thompson was 8.05. was on the meter. Last two jumps.
But in the end the situation remained the same as none of the four could improve their position in their fifth and sixth jumps.
However, Sreeshankar had already taken a big leap of faith in his fifth jump, which took him from 7.84m to 8.08m and put him in the race for a medal out of nowhere.
He started with a warm-up effort of 7.60m and improved it to 7.84 in his second attempt and repeated it in his third attempt. In contrast, Nair started with 7.94 and produced his best jump of the day, 8.08, in his second attempt and had already secured the top spot. South African jumper van Vuuren also finished second with an effort of 8.06m, while Jamaica’s Thompson clocked 8.05m in his third jump.
Sreeshankar now had to act and take a huge leap to get into the medal category. He did exactly that – what looked like a boom in the 8.30s. But it was declared a foul – Sreeshankar pulled to cross the take-off line less than a centimeter on board.
Sreeshankar said, “It was the smallest difference I have ever seen. I was surprised to see that.” This was very close to a call but was possible due to a new laser-guided system used by World Athletics.
Sreeshankar did not lose his courage even at that juncture.
After the competition, Sreeshankar said, “As I said I learned so much from past experiences when I finished 5th-7th and I didn’t worry. I knew I could take a big leap and that would make things happen.” Will be fine.”
On this occasion, he was reminded by his father and coach S Murali that he had made a big appearance in the Federation Cup from the same venue, while chief national athletics coach Radhakrishnan Nair asked him to control his breath and dampen his enthusiasm. Whispered in the ears.
Sreeshankar put up his best effort of 8.08 on his fifth jump and the rest, as he says, is history.
“It’s not my best effort, well below my personal best (8.36) but I’ll take it any day. I’m happy with my performance because of the medal. It’s the biggest medal won in a global competition and I thank my father, my family, the federation, the Sports Authority of India, my sponsors JSW and the Sports Ministry for showing faith in me and helping me achieve this,” Sreeshankar said.
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