As a youngster, Tejaswin Shankar used to dream about representing his country at Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. He used to watch the Indian athletes perform and would get the kick seeing them in action in these multievent sporting events.
On Wednesday, the19-year-old Indian high jumper had ensured that he had realized part of his dream atter he cleared a distance of 2.28 metres in the on going Federation Cup athletics in Patiala to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Australia. This jump incidentally was also a new national record.
On his part, Tejaswin was elated. “I am over the moon that I have been able to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. This has been one of the dreams of my life and I had some problem initially in believing that I had set a national mark and in the process had qualified for the CWG,” he said.
Tejaswin who is pursuing a business degree from the Universtiy of Kansas in the US, was of the opinion that his stint in the US had been of great help to him. “I think my plan to go to the US and train and then study also has helped me a lot. The training facilities in the US are very good. Also there are regular competitions which go a long way in
In fact, Tejaswin had registered the same 2.28 metres in a compettion in the US a couple of weeks ago, but that event was not ratified by the Athletic Federation of India (AFI).. ‘Ever since I had attained that mark in the US I was confident of getting it done. I think good performance is all about one’s confidence and this is where I must say that my stint in the US has helped me,” said Tejaswin.
Whenever he is away from the athletic field, Tejaswin is quite passionate about another thing—and that is social media. An avid facebooker, Tejaswin is ;plugged on to his laptop where he is hooked on to the social media, Interestingly, he did this much against the advice of his first coach Sunil. “Sunil sir was dead against me taking too much interest in the social media. He was of the firm belief that social media would ;prove to be a distraction. But then that was his view point,” said Tejaswin.
Coming back to his sterling show in Patiala on Wednesday, Tejaswin also cleared the qualification guideline of 2.25m set by the AFI for entry to the Commonwealth Games squad. Tejaswin flunked in his first attempt at 2.10m, but improved steadily in his next attempts to clear 2.14m, 2.18m, 2.25m and finally the new national record of 2.28m.
Tejaswin then attempted to clear the height to 2.31m and although he came within a few centimetres of clearing the height he failed to clear this 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 Tejaswin. “I need to get more consistent. I hope I will clear the 2.31m at the Commonwealth Games,” he added
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.
Tejaswin 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,” he added