Kerala long jumper M Sreeshankar broke his own national record mark but more importantly, crossed the automatic qualification mark needed to earn a spot at Tokyo Olympic Games at the 24th National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships 2021 in Patiala on Tuesday.

In the race to tokyo for men’s long jump, a mark of 8.22m or more is enough to earn a spot in the field of 32. Sreeshankar not only achieved that, but he also bettered his previous best and his own national record effort of 8.20m with a jump of 8.26m at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports complex.

Among Indian athletes, Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh had already earned their spots at Tokyo 2020 in men’s field events.

The 21-year-old Kerala athlete’s 8.26m jump came in his fifth attempt as he improved his earlier national record of 8.20m which he had registered in 2018. He began with a 8.02m jump before improving to 8.04m, 8.07m and 8.09m in his next three jumps before touching 8.26m in his fifth attempt. He had a no mark in his final jump.

Getting off the pit when he completed the fifth attempt, he immediately sensed that he had attained his goal, holding his arms aloft as he watched the officials measure the distance. The joy was doubled when he got the confirmation on the electronic board.

“I am thankful to everyone who supported me to achieve this result. I wanted to prove a point as everyone thought 8.20 was my peak and after that my performance was not the same. I am really very happy,” said Sreeshankar.

Another Kerala jumper Muhammed Anees Yahiya (8m) and S Lokesh (7.60m) of Karnataka took the silver and bronze respectively.

Five race walkers (KT Irfan, Sandeep Kumar and Rahul Rohilla in men’s 20km event and Bhawana Jat and Priyanka Goswami in women’s 20km event), two aforementioned javelin throwers, Avinash Sable (men’s 3000m steeplechase) and the mixed 4x400m relay team have earlier qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in athletics.

Earlier, in a significant upset, national record holder Dutee Chand was beaten to second place by S Dhanalakshmi, while Hima Das was disqualified after a false start in a much-anticipated women’s 100m sprint final.

The 22-year-old Dhanalakshmi of Tamil Nadu took the gold by clocking 11.39 seconds ahead of Dutee (11.58) of Odisha to become the fastest woman of the championships on the second day of competitions at the NIS Campus.

Another Tamil Nadu runner Archana Suseendran was third in 11.76.

This was after Hima, who is currently running in the shorter sprint races of 100m and 200m instead of her pet event 400m, was unfortunately disqualified from the final after a false start. The highly-awaited Hima Das-Dutee Chand duel did not pan out.

The final however lived up to expectations after Hima was shown the red card, as Dutee and Dhanalakshmi competed hard for gold. However, neither came close to the automatic Olympic qualification mark of 11.15 seconds.

Dhanalakshmi had qualified for the finals as the fastest runner with a time of 11.38 in the preliminary round on Monday. Dutee had clocked 11.51 on Monday.

Gurindervir Singh of Punjab won the men’s 100m final in 10.32 seconds, while Elakkiyadasan of Tamil Nadu (10.43) and Maharashtra’s Satish Krishnakumar (10.56) were second and third respectively.

National record holder Amiya Kumar Mallick of Odisha finished seventh with a time of 10.75.

Gurindervir had clocked a personal best 10.30 seconds in the semifinals on Monday in a third fastest time by an Indian sprinter. The Olympics qualification time in men’s 100m is 10.05 seconds.

Veteran MR Poovamma, representing Karnataka, took the gold in women’s 400m, winning the final race in 53.57 seconds. Tamil Nadu’s Subha Venkatesan (54.48) and Kiran Pahal of Haryana took the silver and bronze respectively.

Delhi’s 23-year-old Amoj Jacob showed a fine turn of speed to combine with staying power to claim the men’s quarter-mile crown with a career best time of 45.68 against more experienced runners.

Late in the day, Harmilan Kaur Bains (Punjab) spreadeagled the women’s 1500m field that included PU Chitra (Kerala) and Lili Das (West Bengal) with a personal best time of 4:08.70. She set a hot pace from the start and only Chitra tried to catch up in the first lap and a half, only to realise that Harmilan Kaur Bains was in a league of her own.

It was the second fastest time for a metric mile by an Indian woman, the National Record of 4:06.03 having been set by Sunita Rani in the Busan Asian Games back in October 2002. The 22-year-old Harmilan Kaur Bains is daughter of former middle-distance runners Amandeep Bains and Madhuri Singh, who won the 800m silver in the Busan Asian Games.

(With PTI inputs)