November 15th, 2016
On Thursday, Tejaswin Shankar broke the 12-year-old senior national record of Harishankar Roy (2.25 metres) by registering a best jump of 2.26m at the Junior National Championship in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The 17-year-old followed it up with a gold medal in triple jump as well. But sadly, no gold was available for him as the organizers had run short of medals for the competition. And as usual neither the AFI (Athletics Federation of India) nor the Tamil Nadu State Athletics Association were willing to claim responsibility for the mishap.
The organizers weren’t short of just one gold medal. Overall there was a shortage of 29 gold medals, 27 silver medals and as many bronze medals.
In defense, AFI general secretary CK Valson said, “There are 125 events in the junior nationals so sometime it becomes difficult to keep track of the number of medals. But if there were fewer number of medals that had been procured, we should have been told in advance. We could have brought more medals from Delhi.” He further added that the AFI would post the medals to the respective state associations which would subsequently hand out the medals to the particular players.
The event was organized by the Tamil Nadu Athletics Federation. Latha, their treasurer, said that it was the AFI’s job to get the medals from Delhi and the organizers role was to give away the medals to the athletes.
In early June, Tejaswin injured his groin and suffered a hitch at the Asian Junior Championships in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and which also made him miss the next month’s World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz. He was one of the first athletes to qualify for the world event when he won silver, in his maiden senior meet, at the South Asian Games in Guwahati. He won a bronze too, in the last year’s Asian Youth Championships in Doha.
At the National Meet, it was little unusual to see a high jumper taking part in a triple jump event, which needs a bit of refined technique. For Tejaswin, this was his second time. His detectable flaws did not bother him much. “I only take part in the triple jump because the drills are something that help me in the high jump as well. I was expecting to win a gold but I wasn’t thinking of getting a record. The triple jump is just a fun event for me,” he says.
On the other hand, the national record holder high jumper is not keen on getting back to his other passion – fast bowling even though he still enjoys it. “I still enjoy fast bowling so I will be participating at school-level tournaments. I don’t know how quick I am but I am sure I will be quicker than before because of the strength training I have done. Let’s see how the batsmen perform when I bow,” he adds.
This time at the National Meet, he did miss out on the best athlete award in the U-18 boys category, but he will be going home with a national record and one gold medal. And sadly he will also have to collect his other gold medal from the AFI office.