Jeswin Aldrin of Tamil Nadu beat Commonwealth Games silver medallist Murali Sreeshankar of Kerala for the gold in a high-quality long jump competition in the National Games here on Saturday to qualify for the 2023 World Athletics Championships.
Aldrin jumped 8.26m in his sixth and last attempt to win the gold and go past the World Championships qualifying mark of 8.25m. He also had two other 8m-plus jumps — 8.07m and 8.21m.
Sreeshankar, who won a silver in the Birmingham CWG in August and holds the national record of 8.36m, had a best jump of 7.93m, which he came up in his first attempt. He had another jump of 7.55m before passing all the remaining four attempts.
Another top long jumper, Muhammed Anees Yahiya of Kerala was third with a best jump of 7.92m.
Meanwhile, Amlan Borgohain of Assam and Jyothi Yarraji of Andhra Pradesh emerged as the fastest man and woman respectively of the National Games after clinching gold in the 100m dash events.
Jyothi, whose pet event is 100m hurdles in which she holds the national record, stunned the likes of Dutee Chand (Odisha) and Hima Das (Assam), to win the women’s 100m gold with a time of 11.51 seconds.
Tamil Nadu’s Archana Suseendran (11.55s) and Maharashtra’s Diandra Valladares (11.62s) won the silver and bronze respectively.
National record holder Dutee finished sixth with a time of 11.69s while Hima was seventh in 11.74s.
“I didn’t come here thinking of winning or losing. I just wanted to give a good timing and that helped me come up with my fastest race,” Jyothi said.
“They (Dutee and Hima) have always encouraged me and I thank them for their support. I am just happy that I won and don’t think on the lines that I beat them,” she added.
Borgohain clocked 10.38s in the men’s 100m dash to stand on the top of the podium. Tamil Nadu runners Elakiyadasan VK (10.44) and Siva Kumar B (10.48) were second and third respectively.
“You know, it’s like a stage show, sometimes you perform, sometimes you don’t,” Borgohain said.
Asked about the hot conditions during the race, he said, “I don’t think about it much. It is the same for everyone, isn’t it? “In the All-India Railway competition, I ran at 2 PM in similar weather conditions and clocked 10.25 seconds. So, I am experienced in this kind of weather.” Borgohain also took the opportunity to highlight the sacrifices his family had made to help him make a career in athletics.
“You see this,” he said, pointing to his arm on which he had tattooed ‘Maa’.
“I was in Orissa and was thinking of my mother and simply went and got this inscribed on myself,” he said, adding that he didn’t tell his mother before getting it done.”