Shankar betters national record at Federation Cup

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Patiala, March 7 (IANS) Tejaswin Shankar set a new national record in the mens high jump scaling 2.28 metres at the Run Adam Federation Cup athletics championships here on Wednesday.

Shankar had earlier cleared 2.28m at a collegiate event in the US but this mark was his first at an Athletics Federation of India (AFI) event.

Shankar also held the previous national record of 2.26m recorded at the Junior National Championships in 2016.

In the process of bettering the national record, Shankar also cleared the qualification guideline of 2.25m set by the AFI for entry to the Commonwealth Games squad.

Shankar flubbed his first attempt of at 2.10m, but improved steadily to clear 2.14m, 2.18m, 2.25m and finally the new national record of 2.28m.

He then improved the height to 2.31m and although he came within a few centimetres of clearing the height failed in his three attempts.

“I had jumped this height in the USA but it feels good to clear this height at a competition in India,” said Shankar, a first-year student of Kansas State University. “I need to get more consistent. I hope I will clear the 2.31m at the Commonwealth Games,” Shankar said.

But while all eyes were on Shankar, Siddharth Yadav delivered the performance of his career to also clear 2.25m and finish with silver.

“It is the best jump of my career. My previous best was 2.23m,” said the 25-year-old Yadav who made three failed attempts of 2.28m.

Shankar too was all praise for his rival.

“It is great to see two Indians going to the Commonwealth Games. More than going to the Commonwealth Games, it is a better feeling to know that two of us are going. I never thought I would see two Indians clearing 2.25m. It always boosts you to be competing against another good jumper,” Shankar said.

Shankar and Yadav delivered by far the best performances of the day. They were not the only athletes to qualify for the Commonwealth Games though.

L. Suriya also made the cut-off mark in the women’s 10,000m race by clocking 32 minutes and 23.96 seconds. The qualifying guideline was set at 32:30.

Suriya had won the 5,000m at the Federation Cup earlier, yet had not pushed herself too hard then.

“We had focused all her efforts on the 10,000m because we felt that she had a better chance in that event,” Suriya’s coach Surender Singh said.

Of the other athletes in the competition, only pole vaulter P. Surekha came close to matching the qualifying guideline for the Commonwealth Games.

Surekha, who held the meet record of 4.05m and the national record of 4.15m, managed to clear 3.90m, to finish 10cm shy of the CWG qualifying guideline of 4.00m. She finished ahead of Khyati Vakharia who jumped 3.80m and Krishna Rachan who cleared 3.70m.

Anu Rani who needed to exceed her personal best of 61.80m in order to match the qualifying guideline of 62m set by the AFI for the Commonwealth Games, could only manage a best of 57.37m on the day.

Rani produced her best effort in her very first attempt but faltered consistently after that, fouling her final two throws.

Pushpa Jhakar of Haryana finished second with 53.70m while Sharmila Kumari finished third with 53.53 seconds.



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