The second day of the Federation Cup Athletics Meet in Kerala was all about Murali Sreeshankar from Kerala and Jeswin Aldrin from Tamil Nadu. The two long jumpers were involved in a fascinating duel and in the end Aldrin pipped Murali to win the gold medal.
Aldrin won the gold medal with a jump of 8.37m while Sreeshankar managed 8.36m, falling agonizingly short. Although Aldrin's jump could have been a new national record, it will not be counted because it was a wind-aided jump (the wind reading was above the legal limit of 2m).
The Federation Cup tournament witnessed another record with three Indians recording jumps over 8m for the first time. In the process, Sreeshankar broke his previous national record of 8.26m. Both Jeswin Aldrin and Sreeshankar confirmed their berths for the World Championships later this year.
Speaking about his performance, Aldrin said he was elated to set a new standard in the sport in India.
"This is a new standard of long jump in India, and the competition will definitely help the sport. I am happy that I have managed to qualify for the World Championship with my performance and I am hoping that I can repeat my performances on the world stage as well," he said.
Jeswin Aldrin's learning curve at the Inspire Institute of Sport
Jeswin Aldrin was scouted into the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) athletics program in 2018 as a talented 16-year-old. He then had a personal best of 7.51m.
Training under French head coach Antony Yaich for three years has been a huge learning curve for Aldrin as he has improved through leaps and bounds. Aldrin has had training and exposure camps in France and South Africa over the last few years.
He is currently working with the new IIS Athletics head coach Yoandri Betanzos from Cuba, who is a five-time World Championship medal-winning triple jumper.
Betanzos said that Aldrin showed a lot of grit during the competition in Kerala and said the target for the latter during training was to clear the 8m mark consistently.
"Jeswin's performance was very good, we knew he could do it because he was doing similar jumps in training, but he showed a lot of grit to showcase that performance in the competition."
"One of Jeswin's strongest traits is that apart from being a very talented athlete, has a very strong mindset and is able to catch minor adjustments in technique very well. Our first goal was to clear 8m regularly, which we have achieved."
"We will now put more emphasis on some of his technical details and focus on our next targets, which are to put in strong performances at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games."