Updated: June 28, 2022 7:05:56 pm
India’s premier long jumper M Sreeshankar on Tuesday rued his withdrawal from the upcoming Diamond League owing to visa-related issues, saying he was “extremely keen” to go up against Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou in Stockholm.
Sreeshankar was forced to pull out of the prestigious tournament, starting June 30 in Sweden, as his passport was held up at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi for visa processing for next month’s World Championship at Oregon.
The national record holder has said that while participation in the Diamond League would have allowed him to fine-tune his preparations for the World Championships, not being there wouldn’t necessarily affect him, since the Worlds is his first priority.
“Unfortunately, the visa situation meant that I had to withdraw from the upcoming Diamond League in Stockholm. I was extremely keen on taking part in that event, especially against the current Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou,” Sreeshankar said during a video interaction. Interestingly, both Sreeshankar and Tentoglou achieved a jump of 8.36m this year.
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“Participation in the Diamond League would have definitely placed me in a better position before the World Championships in July. That said, on the flip side, I am now going to get more time for preparing myself for the World Championships which has always been my first priority and also the Commonwealth Games,” he added.
The 23-year-old Kerala athlete had won a gold medal earlier this month with a sensational jump of 7.95m at Venizeleia-Chania 2022 Athletics Meet in Greece. He said that the focus right now is to better his personal record and give his absolute best at the World Championship.
“Despite the fact that I had to withdraw from the Diamond League, I have been working hard and I am extremely confident of bettering my own personal record at the World Championship. The event will have several high-profile athletes but I am ready to give my best,” Sreeshankar said.
The 18th edition of the World Championship is scheduled to be held from July 15-24.
Reflecting on his recent performances, Sreeshankar said that Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra has taught him a great deal on how hard work shapes an athlete.
“I am quite sure that my recent performances will make me a better athlete in the future but it is Neeraj Chopra’s relentless hard work that has taught me a great deal. He makes every event his own and never succumbs under pressure. His gold-winning feat has had a huge impact on Indian athletes, including me,” Sreeshankar stated.
“After my performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games, my confidence level sunk to an all-time low. But it was Neeraj Chopra’s historic feat that helped me realise that I can also my make country proud in a similar way,” he said.
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