Good times continued for Asian Games triple jump gold medallist Arpinder Singh on Sunday when he became the first Indian to climb the podium for Team Asia-Pacific at the IAAF Continental Cup with a bronze at Ostrava, Czech Republic. His jump of 16.33 m in the semi-finals edged out 2008 Olympic champion Nelson Evora of Portugal, who managed 16.28 m in his fourth attempt. Singh’s medal came after a first jump of 16.59m in the qualifying series. Eight athletes represented four continents in the competition. Arpinder qualified for the fourth round as his team-mate Ruslan Kurbanov of Uzbekistan had a best jump of 16.34 in three attempts.
“Before coming here, we had training sessions for a day or two and yesterday, when I met American jumper Christian Taylor, the world and Olympic champion, I asked for a selfie with him. It was a kind of fan moment for me. I was bit tired after competing regularly for the last six months, but competing against the world’s best and giving your best is a special feeling,” Arpinder said.
Unlike other IAAF events, the Continental Cup sees athletes competing for their respective continental teams and the event has a qualifying series before four athletes make the semi-finals. While at other events, triple jumpers have six attempts in the final and are ranked accordingly, the Continental Cup saw eight jumpers first making three jumps to qualify for the fourth round.
Three — including Taylor, Cristian Napoles of Cuba and Huges Fabrice Zango of Burundi jumped more than 17m in their first three attempts while Evora had a best of 16.58m with Arpinder’s first jump of 16.59 m seeing him qualify for the fourth round. Napoles did not advance into the fourth round as Taylor of Team Americas had already qualified with a best jump of 17.59m. While Taylor made a jump of 17.31m in his final attempt against Zango’s 16.46m, Singh won the bronze medal as his fourth jump was better than Evora’s.
“In the last six months, the focus was on fitness and improving the running approach. The results have been good. The Asiad medal too came at the right time. 2020 Olympics is on my mind, but I think medals like this are stairs to the big goal,” he added. coach Bedros Bedrosian believes Aprinder needs to train harder to break the 17.50m barrier. “I believe if he has to jump more than 17.50m, we need to make some adjustments. Before the Asian championships in Doha in April, we will train in Oman for two months. It will also help since the world championships in September will also be in Doha,” Bedrosian added.