High jumper Tejaswin Shankar, on a full scholarship at the Kansas State University, is caught between appearing for his mid-term exams or travelling to Patiala for the Federation Cup, the event earmarked by Athletics Federation of India (AFI) as the selection trials for the Asian Athletics Championships.
Speaking to The Indian Express he said, “I will have to miss my final exams in April since it coincides with the Asian Athletics Champions. So I have to appear for this one. I can’t miss both, my professor wouldn’t allow it.”
However, the AFI is keen that he participates in the Fed Cup. Commenting on the issue, AFI secretary CK Valson said, “The AFI has received a letter from Tejaswin Shankar in which he has requested us to allow him to skip the Federation Cup, the selection trial for the Asian Athletics Championships. The AFI has replied that he would have to participate in the Federation Cup. The final call will be taken by the selection committee after evaluating his performance in recent meets.”
However, to impress the national selectors, and probably avoid the trip to Patiala, Shankar will have to come up with a credible show in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) indoor meet in US on March 9. He is hopeful that he will clear 2.25 metres, the qualifying guidelines set by the AFI for the Asian championships. Last month Shankar jumped 2.28 metres at the Big 12 collegiate meet, just a centimetre short of his national record.
In case he fails to clear 2.25 metres, Shankar’s problems could aggravate. “That would mean, I would have just got done with my final indoor meet three days before the Fed Cup and then sitting in a flight for 24 hours would be unforgiving. Moreover, I would have missed classes and university work,” he said.
The AFI has made it mandatory for all athletes to participate in the Federation Cup. Elite athletes could be given an exemption, AFI rules state, but the selection committee will have the final say if they are to be picked for the Indian team. Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games gold-medal winner, training in Potchefstroom with foreign coach Uwe Hohn, has been exempted from participating in the Federation Cup.