On Thursday evening in Birmingham, Murali Shreeshankar won India their second medal in athletics at Commonwealth Games 2022, after finishing second in the men’s long jump finals. Shreeshankar’s distance of 8.08m was the same as that of the eventual gold medallist, but he had to settle for silver due to a shorter second-best jump.
In his fourth attempt, the 23-year-old must have covered around 8.20m – good enough to secure him a gold medal – but it was deemed illegal. As per the match officials, he breached the foul line by just one cm, but it looked just alright on television. Shreeshankar was aghast by the decision, and shouted, “It was a millimeter!”
It was only in his next attempt when Shreeshankar entered the podium race with an 8.08m jump. None of his first three attempts breached the 8m mark, while his last attempt was again declared foul.
Shreeshankar is only the second long-jumper from our country to bag podium-finish in the Commonwealth Games, and he did this in his very first attempt. Four years ago, Shreeshankar missed out on CWG due to a terrible appendix that almost killed him.
“Murali Sreeshankar couldn’t compete and nearly died after his appendix burst just before the 2018 CWG,” wrote senior journalist Jonathan Selvaraj on Twitter. “The 23-year-old from Palakkad has returned to win in the men’s long jump at the 2022 CWG. In his 2nd last effort, he jumps 8.08m – same as Laqan Nairn but loses on countback.”
A few days before CWG 2018, Shreeshankar complained of stomach pain, and was taken for a scan. The doctor advised him an immediate surgery to remove his appendix.
The Road To Glory
It hasn’t been a smooth journey from Shreeshankar. Last year his coach S Murali, who also happens to be his father, was sacked by the Athletics Federation Of India (AFI) after Shreeshankar failed to cross 8m in Tokyo Olympics.
Shreeshankar fell down with COVID-19 just ahead of the Olympics, and this impacted his fitness level. Seen as one of the biggest hopes for India, he even failed to qualify for the main event.
The AFI also labelled Murali’s coaching as “unprofessional” and “unscientific”. “Everyone told him to change your coach. But I know my boy since the first time I was handed over the baby at Kuttusamy Naidu hospital in Coimbatore where he was born!” the father coach tells Indian Express.
In the men’s long jump final at World Athletics Champion, Murali finished seventh with a record of 7.96m, well below his personal best (8.36m). Still only 23, the age is on his side, and his next focus will be on towrads Diamond League final and Paris 2024.
Lead Image: SAI/Twitter