Indian long jumper Shaili Singh lived up to expectations as she made it to the finals after topping the qualification round with an effort of 6.40m at the World U20 Athletics Championships in Nairobi on Friday.
The 17-year-old Shaili, considered one of the brightest upcoming stars in Indian athletics, achieved her best of the day in her third and final jump after starting off with a 6.34m in Group B. Her second jump recorded a distance of 5.98m.
Shaili is considered a medal prospect but the final, which will be held on Sunday, is expected to pose a tough challenge with some of the world’s best having made the cut.
Sweden’s 18-year-old Maja Askag, who had won the European U20 title last month, qualified as second best overall after winning Group A with a best jump of 6.39m. Lissandra Maysa Campos (6.36m) of Brazil, Shantae Foreman (6.27m) of Jamaica and Mariia Horielova (6.24m) of Ukraine, who qualified as third, fourth and fifth respectively, have jumped beyond 6.40m this season.
Shaili, who had won the long jump event at the National (Senior) Inter-State Championships in June with an effort of 6.48m, is the current U18 world No 2 and U-20 national record holder.
The Jhansi-born athlete was raised by a single mother who worked as a tailor. She currently trains at the academy of celebrated long jumper Anju Bobby George in Bengaluru. She is coached by Anju’s husband Bobby George.
In other events, Nandini Agasara qualified for women’s 100m hurdles semifinals after finishing fourth in heat 4 and 21st overall.
But Tejas Shirse (men’s 110m hurdles; 5th in heat 3), Pooja (women’s 1500m; 11th in heat 1) and Shanmuga Srinivas (men’s 200m; 5th in heat 2) failed to advance to the semifinals.
Inputs from PTI