Tejaswin Shankar, from India, kicked off his 2024 season with a win in the high jump at the International High Jump Gala in Heist-op-den-Berg, Belgium. After not competing since the previous October, the 25-year-old cleared 2.23 meters, claiming the top spot at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Challenger event. Shankar holds India’s national record with a personal best of 2.29 meters, set back in 2018.
He outperformed Greece’s Antonios Merlos and Mexico’s Roberto Vilches, both of whom jumped 2.20 meters to tie for second place at the event held in the local sports hall. Shankar, who won a silver in the decathlon at the Asian Games in 2023, is now concentrating on the high jump, aiming for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics. The qualifying mark for men’s high jump at those Olympics is 2.33 meters.
In 2015, Shankar clinched the gold medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia, jumping a record-breaking 2.14 meters. He secured a silver medal the next year at the South Asian Games in Guwahati with a 2.17-meter jump. However, a groin injury affected his performance, leading to a sixth-place finish at the Asian Junior Championships, and he had to sit out the 2016 World Junior Championships.
At just 17, Shankar made headlines by surpassing Hari Shankar Roy’s national record of 2.25 meters, which had stood for 12 years, by clearing 2.26 meters at the Junior National Championships in Coimbatore in November 2016. This feat placed him as the world’s third-best junior high jumper that year. A slipped disc unfortunately left him unable to compete for half a year in 2017.
Several other Indian athletes have competed abroad this year
Jesse Sandesh also participated in the Belgian event, tying for 10th with a jump of 2.09 meters. This was his second competition of the year after starting the season with a 2.10-meter jump in Germany, where he came in sixth out of eight jumpers. Shankar is set to compete again on February 20th at another athletics meet in Nehvizdy, Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, Indian athlete Priyanka Goswami, who has hit the qualifying mark for the 20km race walk at the Paris Olympics, is currently in Australia for training and competition. She finished ninth in a 10km race walk in Canberra with a time of 46:22.26 and participated in a 20km race walk in Adelaide but did not finish.
Elsewhere, Selva Prabhu secured second place in the triple jump in Germany with a jump of 16.36 meters. Jeswin Aldrin, India’s national record holder for the long jump, competed in France this month. He came in third with a jump of 7.70 meters in Amiens and then improved to 7.74 meters jump in Mondeville, which earned him second place.