It was a proud moment for Indian athletics and especially, Kerala sports, as Eldhose Paul became the first from the country to win a gold in triple jump at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday. The 25-year-old from Ernakulam also had the distinction of being the first Keralite to win an individual gold at the quadrennial event.
To make it special, Eldhose won the gold with a personal best of 17.03m.
It has been a couple of memorable weeks for Eldhose. After struggling to get visa in time for the World Championships at Eugene, Eldhose made history by becoming the first Indian male triple jumper to make it to the final of the prestigious championships. He finished ninth in the final.
But Eldhose raised his performance at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on Sunday. He crossed the 17-m barrier in his third attempt and staved off a stiff challenge from his statemate and training partner Abdulla Aboobacker to win a historic gold.
The third Indian in the fray, Praveen Chithravel finished fourth with a jump of 16.89m.
The 1-2 finish confirms that things are looking up for the Indian triple jumpers. Aboobacker has the best distance among current Indian jumpers with a best of 17.19m, which is second only to Ranjith Maheswari's national record of 17.3m. Karthik Unnikrishnan, who also trains along with Eldhose and Aboobakcer at the SAI centre, Bengaluru, under coach M Harikrishnan, has a personal best of 17.1m.
The gold medal will surely be big a boost to Eldhose. He has been improving steadily this season as he had set his previous best of 16.99 in the Federation Cup in Kozhikode. The expectations will only grow from now on. The onus is on him to work hard and get better in the coming years.
The Indians have been impressive in the track and field events in Birmingham as high jumper Tejaswin Shankar clinched a bronze, M Sreeshankar took home a silver in long jump, race walker Priyanka Goswami won a silver and Avinash Sable finished second in 3,000m steeplechase.
On Sunday, Annu Rani and Sandeep Kumar won bronze medals in women's javelin and men's race walk, respectively. Even in the absence of Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra, the Indians made a splash and it's no mean achievement.