The new national record set by Olympic long jumper M. Sreeshankar in the ongoing Federation Cup in Athletics in Calicut (Kerala) has made headlines and has gone viral on social media. In addition, the world-class distance of 8.37 meters (with wind speed +4.1 m/s) by Jeswin Aldrin and the NR jump of 8.36 meters produced in the duel between Sreeshankar and Aldrin has also attracted many sports fans in India surprised. In an exclusive talk with Vimal Mohan of DailyExpertNews, Anju Bobby George, India’s first-ever World Championship long jump bronze medalist (Paris, 2003) and Senior Vice President of the Athletics Federation of India, explains the factors behind this success and also talks about the role of ‘the super shoes’ helping the athletes around the world.
Ask: How would you rate the performance of M Sreeshankar and Jeswin Aldrin. What could be the factors behind these world-class performances? Isn’t it also gratifying and amazing that all three medalists made it to the 8-meter line?
Anju Bobby George: Undoubtedly, these are fantastic performances from these long jumpers. Congratulations to all medal winners. Another big advantage is that Sreeshankar and Jeswin Aldrin will have the chance to compete in the World Championships in Athletics (July 15-24, USA). But to put things in perspective, it is also thanks to the new spikes with carbon fiber plates or the ‘super shoes’ that these athletes use that we are witnessing this peak performance.
Ask: But these spikes are legal and athletes even used them during the Tokyo Olympics.
Anju Bobby George: Absolute. Athletes all over the world use it. During the Tokyo Olympics, athletes were allowed to use it. These spikes with carbon plated soles give stability to the shoes. In the past, the shoes wobbled a bit and were therefore not stable. It can help athletes improve their mark by 15-20 centimeters. Now you will see that many records are broken all over the world.
Ask: So how do you rate Sreeshankar’s jumps (8.36m) and gold medalist Jeswin Aldrin’s jump (8.37m) at the Calicut Fed Cup?
Anju Bobby George: Both are talented. But their real test will be at international level tournaments like world championships and so on
Ask: What do you expect from your own child prodigy Shaili Singh? Does she also use ‘super shoes’?
Anju Bobby George: Certainly. She also uses ‘super shoes’. Shaili won a silver medal at the World Under-20 Championships (6.59m) in Nairobi last year. She is now preparing for the European circuit where she will be tested again.
Ask: Besides javelin and long jump, what are the other athletic events we expect more of at the top tournaments?
Anju Bobby George: The Athletics Federation of India has focused on five disciplines in recent years. We have made long-term plans. We focus on javelin, long jump, discus, walking and 400m. These are technical events and that is why India stands a chance in these events. Just as the Caribbean and Americans excel in sprint events and Ethiopia and Kenya excel in medium and long-distance events, Indians have a knack for the aforementioned technical events. We are aiming for the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.
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