Murali Sreeshankar marked his return to competition by holding his nerve to produce his third best jump of 8.17m, to record a dramatic victory in the men’s long jump in the inaugural AFI National Open Jumps Competition at the Chandrasekharan Nair Police Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.

Sreeshankar’s opening leap of 8.14m appeared good enough to seal victory but Mohammad Anees Yahiya produced his personal best effort, 8.15m, on his last attempt to leave the Olympian with the task of passing that on his last try. The 22-year-old bettered that by 2cm with an explosive effort, ensuring that he now has three of the four best jumps by an Indian.

The two men’s long jumpers were among six athletes who went past the qualifying standards for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games laid down by the Athletics Federation of India. Female long jumper Ancy Sojan and three triple jumpers Eldhose Paul, Karthik Unnikrishnan and Abdulla Aboobacker were the others who shared the limelight.

Eldhose Paul and Karthik Unnikrishnan notched up personal bests of 16.93m and 16.87m with their last attempts. The 25-year-old Eldhose Paul, whose previous best of 16.62m was achieved in June last, found the rhythm to wrest the lead back from Karthik, who improved his personal best from 16.80m, to bring the triple jump competition to a heady climax.

Ancy Sojan got her personal best of 6.51m on her fifth try to become only the eighth Indian woman long jumper to pass the 6.50m mark. Each of her five valid jumps were past the 6.20m. Nayana James also had similar consistency with her shortest jump measured at 6.18m as she offered her quality competition but could not do better than 6.35m.

Abhinaya Shetty got her personal best of 1.82m in the women’s high jump but failed to clear the bar at 1.84m, the height that would have seen her meet the Asian Games qualifying standard. Gracena Merly, the only Indian woman who has leapt over that height in the past four years, was unable to clear 1.80m on Tuesday.

The day closed with another dramatic last-ditch effort to secure a win, this time by Aleena Jose to edge out V Sheena in women’s triple jump. Sheena led from the start, having opened with a 12.45m effort and bettering that with 12.47m in the fourth attempt. Aleena Jose, lying third in the triangular contest, catapulted to the top with a 12.68m effort in the sixth and final try.

The results:


Pole Vault: 1. Avneesh Kumar (Uttar Pradesh) 4.90m; 2. A Gnana Sone (Tamil Nadu) 4.70; 3. Sakthi Mahendran (Tamil Nadu) 4.50.

High Jump: 1. Chetan Balasubramanyam (Karnataka) 2.09m; 2. Manu Francis (Kerala) 2.09; 3. Swadhin Kumar Majhi (Odisha) 2.09.

Long Jump: 1. M Sreeshankar (Kerala) 8.17m; 2. Mohammad Anees Yahiha (Kerala) 8.15; 3. Yugant Shekhar Singh (Uttar Pradesh) 7.61.

Triple Jump: 1. Eldhose Paul (Kerala) 16.93m; 2. Karthik Unnikrishnan 16.87; 3. Abdulla Aboobacker 16.81.


Pole Vault: 1. Pavithra Venkatesh (Tamil Nadu) 3.90m; 2. Baranica Elangovan (Tamil Nadu) 3.80; 3. Divya Mohan (Kerala) 3.70.

High Jump: 1. Abhinaya Shetty (Karnataka) 1.82m; 2, Gracena Merly (Tamil Nadu) 1.77; 3. Angel P Devasia (Kerala) 1.74.

Long Jump: 1. Ancy Sojan (Kerala) 6.51m; 2. Nayana James (Kerala) 6.35; 3. Pooja Saini (Rajasthan) 6.12.

Triple Jump: 1. Aleena Jose (Kerala) 12.68m, 2. V Sheena (Kerala) 12.47, 3. Meera Shibu (Kerala) 12.43.