Sreeshankar becomes first Indian male long jumper to qualify for Worlds finals

Sreeshankar's 8m effort took him to the final. File photo: AFP/'Ben Stansall

Eugene (USA): Murali Sreeshankar became the first Indian male long jumper to qualify for the World Athletics Championships finals while 3,000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable also made the cut on the first day of the competition here on Friday.

Sreeshankar, who had entered the championships as a dark horse for a medal at second spot in the season's top list, had a best jump of exactly 8m to finish second in qualification round Group B and seventh overall.

Anju Bobby George was the first Indian to make it to the World Championships long jump finals and lone athlete from the country to win a medal -- bronze in the 2003 edition in Paris.

Two other Indian long jumpers, Jeswin Aldrin and Muhammed Anees Yahiya failed to make it to the final round after finishing ninth and 11th in Group A qualification round with best jumps of 7.79m and 7.73m respectively.

Those who achieved 8.15m or the 12 best performers from across the two groups qualify for the finals to be held on Saturday (Sunday 6.50 am IST).

Keralite Sreeshankar could not, however, touch the automatic qualifying mark of 8.15m but made it to the finals as one of the 12 best performers. The 23-year-old has been a consistent performer with his 8.36m jump at the Federation Cup in April, followed by 8.31m and 8.23m at an event in Greece and National Inter-State Championships respectively.

During the qualifying round, only Japan's Yuki Hashioka (8.18m) and Marquis Dendy (8.16m) of USA crossed the 8.15m mark.

Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.03m) of Greece, who won Group B qualification round ahead of Sreeshankar, world season leader Simon Ehammer (8.09m) of Switzerland and Cuba's Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Maykel Masso (7.93m) were also among those who qualified for the finals.

Jamaican Tajay Gayle's title defence came to an abrupt end after he committed three fouls in qualification.

The 25-year-old from Kingston had not jumped past 8m this year and reportedly suffered a bone bruise weeks earlier.

He was unable to record a legal jump at Hayward Field, missing out on a spot in Saturday's final.

Sable, who had also qualified for the 3000m steeplechase final during 2019 edition, finished third in heat number 3 clocking 8:18.75 to qualify for the finals to be held on Monday (Tuesday early morning in India).

He led till around midway the race before Hailemariyam Amare (8:18.34) of Ethiopia and Evan Jager (8:18.44) of USA took over him.

The top three in each heat and the next six fastest runners across the three heats qualify for the final.

Sable has been on a national record breaking spree in recent times with the latest being the 8:12.48 effort while finishing fifth at the prestigious Diamond League Meeting in Rabat last month.

Toor pulls out

Asian record holder shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, however, pulled out of his event due to a groin injury sustained four days ago after reaching the USA. He tried a couple of practice throws before the event but decided to skip the event as the pain did not subside.

It was disappointment for India in the men's and women's 20km race walk events with Sandeep Kumar and Priyanka Goswami, both national record holders, performing well below their best.

Goswami, who opened India's campaign in the championships, finished 34th with a time of 1:39:42 out of the 36 athletes, who completed the race.

Goswami has a season's best of 1:38:10 and personal best of 1:28:45.

Peru's Kimberly Garcia Leon (1:26:58) won the gold while Katarzyna Zdzieblo (1:27:31) of Poland and Shijie Qieyang (1:27:56) of China took silver and bronze respectively.

The 36-year-old Kumar was finished 40th out of 43 athletes who finished the race, clocking 1:31:58. He has a season's best of 1:22:05 and personal best of 1:20:16.

Japan's Toshikazu Yamanishi (1:19:07) and Koki Ikeda (1:19:14) took the gold and silver respectively while Perseus Karlstrom (1:19:18) of Sweden won the bronze. 

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