Athletics: After high jump record, Tejaswin Shankar bags a gold in triple jump too
Delhi’s 17-year-old young star Tejaswin Shankar, who recently set a senior high jump record at the 32nd Junior Athletic Championships, added a gold medal to his tally by winning the triple jump event at the Nehru Stadium in Coimbatore.
He proved his element of versatility by participating in the event for it is unusual for high jump athletes unlike the long jumpers to compete in the triple jump. With a mere few weeks of practice, Shankar had taken part in the triple jump only once before at the Delhi State Championships held a couple of months ago and emerged as the winner over there.
Shankar, with his effort of 15.21m, pipped Tamil Nadu’s K Kamalraj to the gold medal surpassing his jump of 14.91. However, contrary to the high jump, Tejaswin was not able to earn himself a name in the record books in the triple jump for the meet and national U-18 record stood at 15.63 and 15.52 respectively.
Triple jump is an athletic event famed for its technical challenge, and Shakar with just a couple of months’ practice under his belt did display a certain form of imperfection in his performance with quite a few noticeable flaws. Former Long jumper Anju Bobby George, who witnessed Shankar live in action from the sidelines, said that the young athlete had a strong step and jump phase but was very weak in the initial hop jump and in his landing.
Despite his shortcomings, Shankar was way ahead of his competitors and there wasn’t an inch of worry on his forehead. “I only take part in the triple jump because the drills are something that help me in the high jump as well. I was expecting to win a gold but I wasn't thinking of getting a record. The triple jump is just a fun event for me,” he was quoted as saying to ESPN.
What came as a surprise, though, was the fact that Tejaswin did not finish as the best Under-18 athlete despite setting a national senior record in the high jump. The award went to Haryana’s Dipender Dabas who won the gold in the shot put event with a Meet record.
The upset can be attributed to the limitations of the IAAF system which is used to calculate points and thus decide the recipient of the award. Tejaswin claimed 1144 points as per the system with his 2.26m jump in an event where there was open competition. In contrast, Dabas who threw the shot 20.65m, earned 1159 points. However, Dabas had an overall advantage in the points calculation, since he used a lighter shot put which weighed 5kg as against the senior shot put which weighs 6kg.
Thus, the best athletes in all the four categories from Under-20 to Under-14 went to shot-putters. Dr. Tony Daniel, Technical Committee chairman of the federation, opined, "Yes it seems like they have an advantage because of the implements they are using, but there is no way to calculate the points for a junior event where the equipment is lighter."
Hence, Shankar will essentially head home to Delhi with two podium finishes and a national record to his name.