In a thrilling duel in Kozhikode, Kerala Olympian athlete M Sreeshankar created a new national record with a massive jump of 8.36m. On day two of the 25th National Federation Cup athletics, Jeswin Aldrin, 20, cleared 8.37 meters to win gold in the tournament. But this jump was wind assisted (+4.1m/s) — more than the allowed limit i.e. +2.0m/s — and therefore, the new National Record (NR) was registered against Sreeshankar’s name. In an exclusive chat with NDTV, Sreeshankar said that apart from the USA team, Indian long jumpers are ahead of the rest of the field and there is hope of finishing in the top five at the Paris Olympics 2024.
Question:Your National Record jump (8.36m) here is better than bronze medallist at the Tokyo Olympics (Maykel Masso 8.21m), you have bettered your own national record and have qualified for the World Championships, how satisfying is this performance?
M Sreeshankar:Tokyo has become a thing of past and I am disappointed that I could not do well in Tokyo due to Covid and other issues. But I am focusing on the future now. I feel, only countries like USA have better teams than us. After this performance, people have started expecting more from all of us. We are really feeling enthusiastic to perform at other world class tournaments.
Question: Making a national record with a world class jump, it is rated one of the 10 best ever jumps in Asia. How encouraging is this for you?
M Sreeshankar: It’s absolutely encouraging. As I told you only countries like USA have a better squad of long jumpers than us. If things go well, we can hope to be in top five in Paris Olympics. But I feel sad for Jeswin Aldrin who cleared a distance of 8.37m. It’s not an easy thing. He deserves this National Record. Due to wind speed (+4.1m/s) he missed this record.
Question: How competitive is your relationship with Jeswin Aldrin?
M Sreeshankar: He is a very good friend. Both of us keep pushing each other. Even Muhammed Anees, who cleared 8.06 to get bronze, is a top class jumper. Our team is doing good. With systems in place and proper exposure we are hoping to perform well in the upcoming tournaments.
Question: How do you see your journey from Tokyo to Kozhikode’s NR performance?
M Sreeshankar: I have said it earlier also, I had Covid before Tokyo Olympics. My body could not gather rhythm in time. People unnecessarily questioned my father and coach S Murali. Because of him I am able to do better in many ways. I have started preparing for bigger international tournaments.
Question: Athletes have started raising questions on ‘Super Shoes’ — the new spikes?
M Sreeshankar: Yes, I also used it in this tournament. But, I don’t think that there is a big deal in it. I was using my old spikes. But my father asked me to use these spikes which was used by athletes in Tokyo Olympics as well. I don’t think there is anything extraordinary about it.
Question: Former long jump star Olympian Anju Bobby George and many other athletes consider it to be a big advantage.
M Sreeshankar: I don’t think so. I have also heard about these spikes featuring carbon-fibre plates but I am comfortable with my older spikes as well. These are just different, nothing else.
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