Long jumper Murali Sreeshankar wins silver in long jump . Sreeshankar was denied a gold medal after a late foul in his fourth jump .
After all that we've gone through together, I dedicate this medal to my father, says Murali Sreeshankar, India's new athletics hero, a long jumper, who was draped in Tricolor, on his knees, bent at the waist in some strange obeisance to some unidentified god.His feet were a strange to and fro motion.You could not see his face under his nation's flag, but tears rushed down his cheeks.He just won silver, his first medal in a multi-discipline tournament in which athletics is largely top-drawer stuff.His father and coach, Murali Sivashankar, stood in the Alexander Stadium stands, constantly egging his son on and offering nuggets of advice after every jump.What to do next?What is the right tactic for him?How much should he push the takeoff board so that he can optimize his jump? Don't forget to set it up Son Sreeshankar always turned to his father when he needed him during the long jump hour.Despite all the criticism they have been subjected to over the years, the father-son duo work as a team.Tejaswin, a high-jumper who stood guard from the stands, was confident that a medal would be awarded in the sand pit.He whispered to no one in particular, I was hoping for a gold. The 23-year-old long jumper seemed to be just a cm off the gold with a big leap at one point, but that was rejected.Laquan Nairn of the Bahamas captured gold in his second jump with an 8.08m.In his fifth leap, Sreeshankar came on equal terms, but Nairn's second-best was 7.98 meters (sixth jump), while Sreeshankar's second-best was 7.84 meters.Jovan van Vuuren of South Africa won the bronze medal with a top jump of 8.06 meters. Sreeshankars fourth leap is the subject of the story, however.Sreeshankar made what seemed to be a jump in the 8.20m range on a chilly evening at the Alexander Stadium, supported by a 27,000-strong audience.But with the latest laser beam technology used by World Athletics catching the foul jump, it was declared a foul by a tiny 1 cm.Since November 2021, World Athletics has developed this system, and the laser beam is capable of catching even the tiniest lapses on the take-off board. It was not even one cm, he said later, but refused to dwell on it.In the fourth round, I got a good jump, but I fouled by the smallest of margins that you would ever imagine.But I could do a good jump and earn a silver medal even after that.I knew that one good leap would take me to the top. Sreeshankar said, Madd said that I can do it.It was so a different scenario just a year ago.After the Tokyo Olympics, father and son were chastised for placing 24th overall with a best jump of 7.69 meters and not making it to the final.For the next Olympic cycle, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) wanted to disband the father-son alliance and recruit a foreign coach. Sreeshankar's performance was severely harmed by Covid before the Olympics, even having to be hospitalized, and that hurt his efforts a lot.He had to withdraw just 10 days before the 2018 Gold Coast CWG after undergoing an emergency appendicitis operation.After all that we've been through, I dedicate this medal to my father, he said, slowly adding, Geet.I still have the selection picture from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which I was unable to attend. This one is a big deal for me, the man said, adding that I was in intensive care for a week, followed by intensive rehabilitation.It took me five, six months to get back on track.So, winning a medal now four years ago feels great.This medal was given to everyone who stood beside me.