Hima Das vs Dutee Chand a damp squib, Murali Sreeshankar leaps into Tokyo Olympics

Sreeshankar, the national record holder in long jump, comfortably made the Tokyo cut but the women’s 100m was an anti-climax with Hima defaulting. 

By Naveen Peter

Indian long jumper Murali Sreeshankar has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 21-year-old achieved the qualifying standard of 8.22 metres for the Tokyo Games at the ongoing 24th Federation Cup senior athletics championships in Patiala on Tuesday. He managed 8.26 metres.

But the biggest event of the day, the women’s 100m sprint that would see a faceoff between Dutee Chand and Hima Das was an anti-climax after an overenthusiastic Hima made a false start.

At the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala, it was Sreeshankar’s day as he was in complete control. The national record holder began with an 8.02-metre jump and consistently worked on it as the competition progressed.

The Palakkad (in Kerala) native managed 8.07 metres and 8.09 metres in the following jumps before pulling off a massive 8.26 metres that not only helped him make the cut for the Tokyo Games but also set a new national record.

Sreeshankar held the previous record of 8.20 metres in 2018.

Earlier, a little known Dhanalakshmi of Tamil Nadu produced one of the biggest upsets of the meet to win the women’s 100m dash.

In a field that had heavyweights Dutee Chand and Hima Das, it was the 22-year-old sprinter who clocked 11.39 seconds for the win. The Olympic qualification mark for women's 100m stands at 11.15 seconds.

She was comfortably ahead of Dutee Chand, who took the silver in 11.58 seconds, while another Tamil Nadu runner Archana Suseendran won the bronze (11.76 seconds).

Tuesday’s 100m women’s sprint grabbed the spotlight for two reasons. After Hima was disqualified for a false start, Dutee Chand was relegated to the second spot by the upcoming Dhanalakshmi.

Dhanalakshmi was hardly troubled despite the presence of national record holder — Dutee Chand — in the adjacent lane.

In the men’s 100 metres, Punjab’s Gurvinder Singh defended his Federation Cup title clocking 10.23 seconds. Elakkiyadasan Kannadas of Tamil finished second in 10.43 while Maharashtra’s Satish Rane completed the podium in 10.56 seconds. The Olympic cut for men is 10.05 seconds.

There were no major surprises in the 400-metre finals with Amoj Jacob and Rio Olympian MR Poovamma winning the titles in the men’s and the women’s races, respectively.

Lead photo: Sports Authority of India/Twitter

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