Tejaswin Shankar now in CWG squad but awaits final clearance from IOA

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Friday informed the Delhi high court that high jumper Tejaswin Shankar was included in India’s team for the Commonwealth Games, subject to the Indian Olympic Association increasing the quota of the athletics contingent.

Shankar, who is studying in the United States, achieved the AFI set qualification standard of 2.27m at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships at Eugene, Oregon recently, representing Kansas State University.

However, AFI excluded him from the squad, saying neither the mark came in a meet in India nor he had asked for an exemption from competing at home. Shankar, who also holds the national record in the event (2.29m), filed a writ petition in court saying he had asked for exemption from chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair and that his credentials as a medal prospect for the country at the Birmingham Games cannot be overlooked. The court had asked AFI to consider his selection.

AFI counsel Parth Goswami informed the high court on Friday that the selection committee met on Wednesday and picked five additional athletes, provided the IOA increased the quota. He said the AFI was given a quota of 36 athletes, and if the quota was not increased, the previously selected athletes will be the final squad.

“This court is hopeful that IOA would increase the quota so that all five additionally selected athletes are included in the CWG contingent,” said Justice Jasmeet Singh.

Besides Shankar, the four other athletes added are marathoners Bugatha Srinu and Anish Thapa, heptathlete Swapna Barman and 4X100m women’s relay member MV Jilna.

Another contender, long jumper Jeswin Aldrin failed to find a place in the squad. Aldrin was impressive this year with a wind-assistance 8.37m coming at the Federation Cup in April. However, he has since failed to clear 8m in his last three meets.

The federation had announced a 37-member squad on June 16 with AFI president Adille Sumariwalla requesting “the IOA to increase our quota by one and to assist in securing accreditation for a couple of athletes.”

Jilna was initially part of the five-member women’s relay team but now her participation would depend on IOA clearance. The final date of sending the entries is on June 29. The CWG will be held from July 28-Aug8.

However, Shankar’s inclusion still looks tough given that it will be a tall task for the IOA to provide additional quotas. The Commonwealth Games Federations (CGF) allocates quotas to each member association, who then divide it among different disciplines by the respective National Olympics Committees.

In the current scenario, Shankar’s hopes rest on the athletes selected by the AFI subject to proving their form and fitness.

Sumariwalla had said as many as six athletes were being picked subject to “their proving fitness and form before the Games.”

The players who are yet to achieve qualification standard will have their last chance to perform at the Qosanov Memorial in Kazakhstan or training camp in California. The continental tour meet in Kazakhstan is from June 25-26.

Among those who are on the brink are shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, the defending CWG champion, discus throwers Seema Antil and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon, hammer thrower Sarita Singh, quartermiler, Amoj Jacob and race walker Bhawna Jat.

The next date of hearing is on July 4.

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