4 Indians placed in top-3 of the World Rankings in athletics this season
4 Indian track-and-field athletes have found their place among the top-3 spot of the world rankings in their respective disciplines this season.
Neeraj Chopra's gold medal in the men's javelin throw event at the Tokyo Olympics not only meant a historic feat for India, but it was also a shot in the arm for the Indian athletics community as a whole. Nine months after that spectacular moment, Indian track-and-field athletes have some incredible numbers to showcase in the season that began in 2022.
Incidentally, four Indian track-and-field athletes have found their place among the top-3 spots of the world rankings in their respective disciplines this season.
While steeplechaser Avinash Sable and long jumper Sreeshankar Murali currently hold the top ranks in their events, men's triple jumper Eldhose Paul and women's javelin thrower Annu Rani cling to the third spots.
Avinash Sable — No. 1 in 3000 Metres Steeplechase Men
Avinash Sable had blazed a new national record in 3000m steeplechase in March at the Indian Grand Prix 2 Athletics competition in Thiruvananthapuram. Competing for the first time since the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year, the 27-year-old from Maharashtra clocked 8:16.21, shaving off 1.91 seconds from his own record set in Tokyo. He now tops the season-based world rankings in the men's 3000m steeplechase competition. He is followed by Kenya's Abraham Kibiwot, whose best timing is 8:21.92 and Japan's Ryuji Miura (8:22.25).
Incidentally, Avinash Sable also broke the men's 5000m national record, last week making history of sorts. Sable clocked 13.25.65, eclipsing Bahadur Prasad's 30-year-old record of 13:29.70 in 5000m, set in 1992 He is currently the national record holder for three events — 5000m, 3000m steeplechase and half marathon.
Murali Sreeshankar — No. 1 in Long Jump Men
The 23-year-old from Kerala comes from a rich sports heritage with both parents medalists in athletics. He started his career in sprint and switched to long jump at the age of 13. In the 2021 Federation Cup, Sreeshankar set a National Record for the Long Jump of 8.26m and secured a berth at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. However, his performance was not up to the mark at the grandest stage because of a health issue. However, the youngster came back stronger in the 2022 Federation Cup by re-writing his national record with a jump of 8.36m. His best this year stands clearly as no.1. In fact, his 8.36m is a better jump than the bronze medallist of the Tokyo Olympics, Maykel Massó from Cuba, who jumped 8.21 to bag the medal. The gold medallist Miltiádis Tentóglou of Greece had jumped 8.41m in the Tokyo Olympics. Sreeshankar's jump remains .05m short of the Greek athlete.
Eldhose Paul — No. 3 in Triple Jump Men
Kerala's triple jumper Eldhose Paul is on spree to constantly improve his records. At the Federation Cup in April 2022, Paul showcased a stellar show, as he improved on his personal best with a jump of 16.99m. The record came just a month after Indian Grand Prix 2, where he had produced a jump of 16.95m. Eldhose's 16.99m is the third-best by an Indian behind Renjith Maheswary (17.30m) and Arpinder Singh (17.17m). The record that he created in fading lights and rainy conditions, stands out to be the third-best in the world this season.
Annu Rani — No. 3 in Javelin Throw Women
Seasoned thrower Annu Rani lit up the Javelin Nationals in Jamshedpur on Sunday, with a national record-breaking effort of 63.82m on her very first attempt. The Uttar Pradesh athlete has been India's best woman thrower by a distance for almost a decade now. Sunday was the ninth time she broke the national record as she improved on her previous mark of 63.24m set last year at the Federation Cup in Patiala. Annu had had a quiet season until now after the disappointment at the Tokyo Olympics where she finished 14th in the qualification round. Rani's current best throw puts her in the third position in the World rankings. However, her name has not been updated on the World Athletics website till Monday - May 10.
Though the rankings are based on the performances of simply the last five months, it acts as an indicator of the fact that India's talent pool in track-and-field events is slowly growing by size. A total of 13 Diamond League events for outdoor athletics are scheduled this year, which are supposed to commence this month. These events, along with the Athletics World Championships, and the Commonwealth Games would serve as perfect occasions for athletes around the world to peak. The ground of competition will be much higher as the year progresses and possibly the Indian athletes would not be able to retain their spot in the top 3. But with 4 gold-level events already over out of the 12 scheduled in Athletics this year, Indians present an interesting case for themselves. The present scenario lends an air of positivity to Indian athletics, which is tightly holding on to its only Olympic medal won in Tokyo.