Just a few days ago, Tejaswin Shankar wasn’t sure he would be competing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Cut to Wednesday, the high jumper had scripted history by winning bronze, India’s first in the discipline in CWG, also his first medal in a major multi-discipline international competition.
The journey to glory for Tajaswin was not easy though as he had to knock the doors of the Delhi High Court for a chance to compete after the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) did not name him in their 2022 CWG squad.
He had achieved the qualification mark at a competition in the USA back in June with an effort of 2.27m but wasn’t included in India’s contingent as he hadn’t taken part in the senior national inter-state athletics championships in India.
On Thursday, the 23-year-old NCAA athlete and Kansas University student said that he will be mindful next time only if the rule applies to all Indian athletes.
“If the policy applies to everybody, then everybody has to abide. However, if it is done selectively (to a few athletes), then we have to find an alternative like this time,” Tejaswin said at a press interaction.
“Hopefully, it will include everybody. If that is the case, then of course, I will do that. In my case, the problem was that I was competing in the collegiate circuit, and most importantly, I was a student there. You cannot apply for leaves as per your wishes.
“That turned out to be a big problem for me. I always wanted to represent India. And for that to happen, I had to compete at the Nationals. But, at the same time, I had to go to school. Two things cannot happen at the same time. So, I had to cut some corners,” he added.
He clarified that such a situation is unlikely to occur in the future as is done with college.
“Frankly, that issue is not likely to be repeated as I am done with my studies. So, hopefully, we can put that behind and just move forward,” he said.
When asked about what was going through his head after winning the medal, he said the thought of missing CWG did cross his mind.
“I had that thought for many days. However, once I got here, I knew what I had to do and I was able to do it. I am happy about it,” Tejaswin said.
“Everything happened at a rapid pace. So, at that point, I did not have any reasons to believe that I was not going to participate. So, once things started ticking off, I was excited that I was going to come here (Birmingham),” he added.
The bronze did not come easy as Tejaswin had to dig deep and despite his best effort of 2.22 metres was not his personal best of 2.29m, his goal was only getting a medal.
“In championships, it is less about personal best and more about medals, considering the fact that other situation play a big role. Yesterday, because of the luck, there were a bit of distractions in high jump, as there were lot of other events going on simultaneously,” Tejaswin said.
“There were some good guys out there who jumped over 2.30m this season. So, for them to jump around 2.25m convinced me that the weather and the wind had something to do with it,” he added.
The Indian high jumper revealed that he has not been able to do his best due to chronic tendonitis and plans to compete in decathlon at the Asian Games next year.
“Because with constant tendonitis on my knee, I have not been able to jump as much as I would like to. But I have been able to supplement my high jump training by doing a lot of long jump activities or doing hurdles,” Tejaswin said.
“That is a certainty. I want to compete in decathlon at the Asian Games. That is what I am going to do, going forward,” he added.
But before all that, Tejaswin wants to go back home and spend some time with his family.