World athletics: Aldrin qualifies for long jump final, Sreeshankar flops
The national record holder seals the 12th and last qualifying spot while his senior teammate could not get anywhere near his best
Jeswin Aldrin managed to qualify for the long jump final, taking the 12th and final spot with a jump of 8 metres at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on Wednesday. However, it was disappointing for Murali Sreeshankar, who failed to make the cut after a best of only 7.74m saw him end up 12th in his group and 22nd overall.
Coming into the world championships, Aldrin and Sreeshankar had the top two jumps in the world this season, but both struggled during the qualification round. A jump of 8.15m (automatic qualification) or the 12 best performers went into the final.
Aldrin's world leading distance of 8.42m was surpassed by Jamaican Wayne Pinnock, who came up with a massive 8.54m (PB) in his first attempt to qualify in the top place. Pinnock led a trio of Jamaicans into the final with Carey McLeod (8.19m) and former world champion Tajay Gayle (8.12m) also going through. Besides Pinnock, the other two jumpers to go past the 8.15m mark were Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.25m) and world champion Jianan Wang of China, who produced his season's best of 8.34m in his third and final attempt under pressure. Nine jumpers got into the final as the best performers.
Placed in Group B, the 21-year-old Aldrin got off to a good start with an 8m leap first up, but failed to register a jump in the next two attempts. He anxiously watched others overhaul the mark and was eventually pushed to 12th. Fortunately, it was the last qualifying place on offer.
Aldrin broke the sequence of Indians failing to go beyond the heats in Budapest in what is turning out to be a dismal show. Steeplechase runner Avinash Sable, triple jumpers Eldhose Paul, Abdulla Aboobacker and Praveen Chithravel, 100m hurdler Jyothi Yarraji, Ajay Kumar Saroj (1,500m), Krishan Kumar (800m) and Annu Rani (javelin) all crashed out in the qualifying stage/heats.
Hopes were high from 2022 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Sreeshankar though. The Tokyo Olympian has been impressive at home and abroad this season. He consistently crossed 8m and had gone past 8.15m (qualification distance) five times this year.
Last month, he won silver at the Asian Championships in Bangkok with his second-best jump this season (8.37m). However, on the most important day, he failed to produce even one good jump. The 7.74m was the least he has cleared this year in eight competitions. Any thoughts of Sreeshankar fighting back in his next two attempts were crushed as his performance kept dipping with 7.66m and 6.70m capping a miserable outing.
It was his third time world championships. He had qualified for the final in Eugene last year, finishing seventh. Aldrin was eliminated in the qualifying stage there.
National record holder Annu Rani also could not qualify for the women's javelin final. Her best of 57.05m put her in 19th position overall. The last qualifying spot went to Australia's Kelsey-Lee Barber, who threw 59.66m. CWG bronze medallist Rani's personal best of 63.82m came last year.