Birmingham: Murali Sreeshankar clinched a silver medal in men’s long jump event to give India a second medal in athletics at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham on Thursday. Sreeshankar won the historic silver with a distance of 8.08m in the Men’s Long Jump, becoming the first Indian male athlete to win a Commonwealth Games medal in the long jump. Laquan Nairn (8.08m) of Bahamas clinched the gold while Jovan van Vuuren (8.06) of South Africa claimed the bronze medal
The 23-year-old national record holder soared to 8.08m in his fifth attempt to finish second behind Laquan Nairn of Bahamas in a nerve-wrecking men’s long jump final. Nairn also had a best jump of 8.08m but his second best of 7.98m was better than 7.84m of Sreeshankar. Under rules, if two jumpers are tied on same distance, the one who has a better second best effort will be ranked ahead. The other Indian in the fray, Muhammed Anees Yahiya ended at fifth with a best jump of 7.97m.
Sreeshankar had gone into CWG as gold medal favourite on the basis of his season’s and personal best of 8.36m, which had put him in joint second ranking in the world this season. But he struggled in his first four jumps regarding his landing on the foot board. He began with a 7.64m before jumping identical 7.84m in his second and third attempts. His fourth jump was a foul. He was outside the medal contention at the end of the fourth round as he was at sixth place at that stage but his fifth attempt of 8.08m took him to the second place.
In a dramatic final round jump, he seemed to have crossed the 8m mark — which would have given him a gold — but to his and the Indian contingent’s disappointment, his foot landed 2cm ahead of the line on the foot board. The final attempt was thus ruled as a foul and Sreeshankar had to settle for a silver.
On Wednesday, Tejaswin Shankar had won a bronze in men’s high jump to open India’s medal account in athletics in this CWG. Sreeshankar’s became the first Indian male long jumper to win a silver at the CWG. Suresh Babu had won a bronze in the 1978 edition. Among women, Prajusha Maliakkal won a silver in the 2010 edition in Delhi, while legendary Anju Bobby George bagged a bronze in 2002. It was Sreeshankar’s first medal in a major international competition and a multi-sport event. Before this, he had won a bronze in the 2018 Asian U-20 Championships in Gifu, Japan. He had gone into the World Championships as a dark horse for a medal with a season’s and personal best of 8.36m.