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Aishwarya creates spark in long jump after legend Anju

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  In an Indian context, the women’s long jump has long been the pied piper among all athletics disciplines. At a time when finishing in the top three even in the heats of various events was a pipe dream, Anju Bobby George showed what was possible in the discipline. Global medals, including a gold at the World Athletics Final (a defunct meet), fired the imagination. Yet, her 6.83m, a national record she set at the 2004 Olympics, has never really been challenged. 

Until Sunday. Aishwarya B, who will be taking part in the triple jump final on Monday, set a new personal best of 6.73m. It was the best ever jump made by an Indian athlete not named Anju (previous best was JJ Shobha’s 6.66m set at the same venue in 2004). This, of course, wasn’t the first time she was competing this week. Having already made the cut in the triple jump qualification (the final is on Monday), she took part in the long jump qualification as a way to get prepared for the triple, ‘her primary event’, according to her coach, BP Aiyappa. 

“She was jumping 6.4 in practice (her previous best was 6.52m at the Open Nationals in 2021). So I knew she had it in her. But this jump was surprising. The main thing now is for her to do well in both the finals here.” 

With the leap of 6.73m, she has qualified for both events (triple and the long jump) at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The former 400m national champion decided to coach the Railways athlete in 2020 ‘because of her speed and explosive ability to take off the ramp’.

 “Her speed down the runway is something… In fact, if you see her, you will ask ‘she jumps 6.7m?’ She’s half Anju’s size.” Aiyappa, whose primary task now is to decide whether to keep her in long jump or get her to focus on one of the two events, was also of the opinion that his ward, could ultimately, break the national record in both. “She can break the national record in both events, yes.”

RESULTS SELECT 
Men: 110m Hurdles: 1. Siddhanth Thingalaya (Mah) 13.93 seconds; 2. J Surendhar (TN) 14.18; 3. Tarundeeep Singh Bhatia (Pun) 14.21. High Jump: 1. Sarvesh Anil Kushare (Mah) 2.24m; 2. Jesse Sandesh (Kar) 2.21; 3. Bharathi Viswanathan (TN) 2.18. Shot Put: 1. Tajinderpal Singh Toor (Pun) 20.34m; 2. Karanveer Singh (Pun) 19.07; 3. Akshay (Raj) 18.31.

Women: 3000m Steeplechase: 1. Parul Chaudhary (UP) 9:42.16; 3. Sudha Singh (UP) 10:05.72; 3. Komal Chandrakant Jagdale (Mah) 10:07.57. Javelin: 1. Annu Rani (UP) 60.97m; 2. Shilpa Rani (Har) 59.01; 3. Sanjana Choudhary (Raj) 56.14m. 4x100m Relay: 1. India (Dutee Chand, Hima Das, S Dhanalakshmi and Srabani Nanda) 43.95s.

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