Inter-state Athletics: Tejaswin wins Decathlon gold, qualifies for Asian Games
24-year-old Tejaswin Shankar won gold medal in Decathlon at Inter-State Athletics Championships to qualify for Asian Games.
Featuring in only his third decathlon of his career, Tejaswin Shankar of Delhi breached the Asian Games qualifying mark en route winning the gold to steal the limelight on the third day of the National Inter-State Athletics Championship here on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Shankar accumulated 7576 points to go past the Asian Games qualifying mark of 7500 points in the grueling 10-event competition fought over two days on Friday and Saturday.
"The weather is tough but we have to compete and win. I am not complaining. I will not take any credit, if the other decathletes did not push me in the 1500m (last event) and completed the race below the required time, I would not have won. I would want to break my gold into several pieces and share it with all the other competitors," he said after winning the gold.
Rajasthan's Yamandeep Sharma was a distant second with 7165 aggregate points while Gokul S of Kerala took the bronze with 6937 points.
The five events of 100m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400m were held on day one, followed by 110m hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin, and 1500m race on day two.
Shankar won a high jump bronze in the 2022 Commonwealth Games. He began competing in combined events on a wager with his Kansas State college teammate in the USA. He was also encouraged by his Kansas State University coach to try out events other than the high jump.
Before Saturday, he had competed at the Big 12 Conference Championships at Lubbock, USA in May last year and accumulated 7592 points.
In April this year, he aggregated 7648 points at the Jim Click Shootout meet in Arizona, USA.
Shankar competed with a taped ankle on the first day. But he led day one with 4209 points from the first five events, taking the most points of 992 from his specialized event of high jump with a 2.20m effort.
He consolidated the lead by adding 3367 points on Saturday with a win in the 110m hurdles.
"There was camaraderie among the competitors. We hug each other even with a lot of sweat on our bodies. I made friends in these two days with the guys whom I didn't even know earlier. They sacrificed their event for me. That is the spirit of the decathlon," said Tejaswin.
"I dedicate this win to all the other competitors. I don't deserve the gold, all these guys deserved it."
He finished fourth in the 1500m -- the last of the 10 events -- with a time of 4 minutes 38.49 seconds.
"I had calculated that I have to run below 4 minutes 40 seconds in the 1500m if I have to qualify for the Asian Games. I achieved that not because I was capable of it but because of my co-competitors. Each one of them said that they have to push this guy (Shankar) to finish on time. One guy was running with me all the time in the race only to push me ahead," he said.
He said he was initially thinking of breaking the national record but he knew after the first event of the 100m dash that he would not be able to do it.
"During high jump (on day one), I had some ankle issues but I cleared 2.20m and that boosted my confidence."
Shankar said that national record holder S Siva of Tamil Nadu helped him by "coaching" him from the sidelines on Saturday.
"Pole vault was an event I wanted to do well and national record holder Siva was my coach. He was helping from the sidelines and telling me how to plant the pole. Pole vault is a technical event, so he helped me," he said.
By crossing the 7500 points mark set by AFI for the Asian Games qualification, Tejaswin has made sure that he will feature in the continental showpiece.