Why Murali Sreeshankar is set to make India history in world championship long jump final
There was a sense of calm as Murali Sreeshankar minded his business during the 2022 World Championships in Athletics long jump qualifying event in Oregon on Saturday.
The 23-year-old started with a decent 7.86m on his first attempt before jumping an exact distance of 8m on his second jump all but sealing a place in the World Championships final on Sunday.
He made a mistake on his last attempt and qualified with a modest seventh place out of 12, but that shouldn’t really bother him on Sunday.
Sreeshankar’s chart has gone up since the Tokyo Olympics debacle. He jumped more than 8m at will this season. The boy from Kerala has cleared 8m in all but two of his competitions this season.
He started his season with a nice 8.17m but no wind reading at the India Open Jumps competition in March earlier this year. This was followed by jumps of 8.09 in Federation Cup qualification and a national jump record of 8.36m in the final in April.
His other jumps for the season were 8.31m at the International Show Jumping Meeting, 8.01m and 8.23m at the Interstate Track and Field Qualifier and Final.
The two jumps under 8m in the outdoor section amounted to 7.81m in the Chania International Meeting qualifier before winning the same event with a best of 7.95m.
This is 7 out of 9 outdoor competitions where the Sreeshankar has broken the 8m barrier. The only other jumper to register over 8m this season is Miltiadis Tentoglou from Greece with 10 jumps.
Also, only three other jumpers have improved Sreeshankar’s consistency in 8m jumps this year. They are Eusebio Caceres (5 out of 5), Tentoglou (10 out of 11) and Marquis Dendy 5 out of 6.
These two statistics indicate that Sreeshankar would be one of the best placed athletes to perform those big jumps under the pressure of competing in a World Championships final.
Moreover, Sreeshankar’s national record attempt at 8.36m recorded in April this year remains the second best jump in the world this year with Tentoglou, just behind Swiss Simon Ehammer’s 8.45m.
While Statistically Murali Sreeshankar remains one of the best bets to land a podium finish in the men’s long jump at the 2022 World Championships in Athletics, it will surely all come down to how he handles the pressure in the final.