New Delhi [India], August 4 (ANI): Tejaswin Shankar won India its first-ever medal in the men's high jump event at the Commonwealth Games in its 2022 edition in Birmingham on Wednesday.
This journey towards the medal was however not an easy one for this athlete. The 23-year-old Shankar had to deal with many hardships on his road to the Commonwealth Games glory.
Shankar who joined the athletics squad late, opened the track and field account for the country in Birmingham with a bronze in men's high jump.
Initially, he was not a part of the nation's 36-member Athletics contingent because of his inability to participate in an inter-state meet held in Chennai, which coincided with his participation in NCAA Championship in the USA. He attained the qualification standard of 2.27 m in the Championships, but that was still enough to ensure his inclusion in the CWG contingent.
The athlete took the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to the court over this. A legal battle followed which led to many sleepless nights for Shankar. AFI eventually agreed to include him if Indian Olympic Association (IOA) increased the quota for athletics. Arokia Rajiv, a quarter-mile runner who failed in fitness test paved way for Shankar's inclusion in the contingent as a replacement.
There was another obstacle to overcome as Commonwealth Games Federation did not allow his late inclusion. The CWG Federation only accepted his entry after two members of the contingent failed a dope test.
If faith and luck had worked in Shankar's favour till now, the CWG high jump arena was his chance to showcase his peak-level skill and prove that all the hard work done by him, done for him by others and all the sleepless nights were worth it.
In the Men's high jump finals on Wednesday, he achieved a fairytale ending to his ordeal as he won a Bronze medal for his country, its first-ever in the discipline of high jump.
His family is extremely happy with the result and believes that all the hard work paid off.
"I am very happy. I cannot express it in words. I am happy that he won a medal for his country and worked hard. With the blessings of his well-wishers and family, he is here and it is a matter of pride. Our heartbeat was fast while watching him. It was tense. There were butterflies running in my stomach. 15 family members were watching the event," said his mother Lakshmi to ANI.
"He was confident about winning the medal. He worked hard. He followed a strict diet and did not like spices. He was focused since childhood. He did not leave his training at all and stuck to his schedule no matter what. He was initially not included in the squad. We applied for his inclusion and everyone helped us out. We had never thought of all this could happen and that too so quickly. I am thankful to those who helped him," she added.
His mother plans to celebrate the win when he comes back and keep his favourite sweet, Ghevar for him to enjoy.
Shankar's grandmother was also very happy.
"I am very happy. He won a medal for his country with all his hard work. I cannot express my happiness in words. I was in front of the TV from 11:00 PM onwards and did not leave till 3 AM. He was very hard working. He did not care about his sleep and ate whatever was made at home happily," she said.
The 23-year-old won the nation's first athletics medal in the men's high jump event. World championships indoor bronze medallist Hamish Kerr won the gold for clearing 2.25m and pipped the defending champion Brandon Starc from Australia courtesy of lesser fouls.
India's Shankar started with a successful jump of 2.10m in his first attempt. Shankar took a smooth jump as he cleared the 2.15m hurdle with complete ease on his first attempt.
Shankar executed the 2.19m jump in an emphatic fashion. Throughout the game, Shankar did not find any difficulty getting over the bar once again with a 2.22m jump on his first attempt itself.
However, the Indian high jumper failed to get over the bar on his first attempt in the 2.25m hurdle and in his second attempt too. He decided to give 2.25m third attempt a miss and went straight for 2.28m but failed to clear it. With the failed attempts he had to settle for the bronze medal at the Birmingham 2022.
Former world and CWG champion Donald Thomas from the Bahamas was tied with Tejaswin Shankar at 2.22m but the Indian athlete earned the bronze for making fewer fouls. (ANI)