High jumper Shankar’s last chance to qualify for Olympic Games

Tejaswin Shankar, India’s high jump national record holder, has dashed down from the USA to India with the sole aim of qualifying for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. He will get one last opportunity to do that at the National Inter-State Athletics Championships starting on Friday in Patiala. 

Shankar, a 22-year-old student of the Kansas State University, will have to clear 2.33 meters, the qualification mark, to book his ticket to the Olympics, scheduled to begin on July 23. 

“The obvious goal is to achieve 2.33m. That’s the only way out for me to go to Japan as my world ranking points, which is the second option to qualify for the Olympics, aren’t good enough to make the cut,” Shankar, who flew down to New Delhi last week, told IANS after a practice session on Monday.

Shankar’s season best is 2.28m while his national record is 2.29m.

This month, Shankar won silver by clearing the bar at 2.23m during the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene.

“After missing the 2.33m mark in Eugene, the only choice I was left with was to come to India and compete in the domestic meet in Patiala before the deadline of June 29 to qualify for the Olympics,” he said.

In May, Shankar had cleared 2.28m to win back men’s high jump titles in the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships held in Manhattan. The 2020 edition of the competition wasn’t held due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Delhi-based Shankar is studying business administration at Kansas State University and is on a four-year athletics scholarship since 2017.

Shankar had skipped the Federation Cup Athletics Championships in March as the dates clashed with his NCCA indoor season. He settled for bronze by clearing a height of 2.24m at the NCCA meet.