August 16, 2019 8:47:50 pm
Long jumper M Sreeshankar marked his return to competition on Indian soil after six months with a season’s best leap of 8.00m at the Indian Grand Prix V here Friday.
Sreeshankar, who has already qualified for the World championship to be held from September 28 to October 6 in Doha, had last competed in India at Sangrur on March 2 and had touched 7.97m in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan last month.
On a very humid evening, Sreeshankar was all pumped up over his first three jumps, hitting soil at 7.95m twice after touching down at 8.00m with his first jump.
An uncharacteristic 6.71m was followed by 7.62 and 7.73m efforts. Barring that fourth leap, each of his jumps was farther than his competitors managed on Friday.
The 8.00m effort was only the third time in his nascent career that Sreeshankar leapt over eight metres or more, having jumped 8.11m and 8.20m in the National Open Championships in Bhubaneshwar to wrest the National record from Ankit Sharma.
A heel injury kept the 20-year-old away from the track largely until June when he went to Europe for four competitions.
“I have not competed much after coming back from injury. I am happy to hit 8-meter mark again but I need to improve it further,” said Sreeshankar after the competition.
Karnataka’s Siddharth Naik was second with 7.56m, edging out Haryana’s Sahil Mahabali by a mere centimeter.
No Worlds joy for Indian athletes
Shot putter Inderjeet Singh looked determined to go past the 20m mark – the World Championship qualifying is pegged at 20.70m – when he opened with a season’s best 19.51m.
Yet, despite a good string of four throws in excess of 19m, his opening effort remained his best. He fouled his last two attempts and will have to qualify at the National Inter-State Championships later this month.
Archana Suseentran (Tamil Nadu) gave the 200m sprint her best and won the two-woman race in a career-best time of 23.18 seconds but could not meet the World Championship qualification standard (23.02 seconds).
Having finished second behind Dutee Chand in the 100m, she returned to the track determined to make the half-lapper one to remember.
With Hina getting left behind quite early in the race, the 25-year-old Archana had to focus on racing against the clock. The result was a dramatic improvement in her personal best from 24.03 seconds in January 2017 to 23.18 seconds.
Her last 200m sprint at the National level was in the National Open in Chennai on September 28, 2017.
Last year, she took part in one race over the distance in the Tamil Nadu State Championship but spent much time focusing on the short sprint so that she could be part of the Indian 4x100m relay team in the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha earlier this year.
In the men’s 400m hurdles, Vijay Singh Mallik (Services) breached the 51-second barrier for only the second time in his career, clocking 50.99 seconds as he finished second behind Tamilarasan Santhosh Kumar (Tamil Nadu) by four-hundredths of a second and ahead of the seasoned Jithin Paul (Kerala).
The 26-year-old Malik, who had clocked a personal best of 50.15 seconds in the Services Championships in September last year, has been training in Patiala while the sub-50-second hurdlers, Santhosh Kumar, 21, and Jithin Paul, 29, have been based in Spala, Poland for some time now.
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