Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday, August 5 congratulated Murali Sreeshankar, who won a silver medal in the men's long jump event at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Vijayan said Sreeshankar made Kerala and Indian proud and added that he was an inspiration.
"Congratulations to M Sreeshankar on winning silver in the long jump at #CWG2022. He has made Kerala and India proud by winning our first-ever medal in this event. His trailblazing leap will inspire many youngsters. Wishing him continued success," Pinarayi tweeted.
The 23-year-old national record holder soared to 8.08m in his fifth attempt to finish second behind Laquan Nairn of Bahamas in a nerve-wrecking men's long jump final on Thursday.
Nairn also had a best jump of 8.08m but his second best of 7.98m was better than 7.84m of Sreeshankar. Under rules, if two jumpers are tied on the same distance, the one who has a better second best effort will be ranked ahead.
This was India's second medal in athletics at the Commonwealth Games this time. On Wednesday, Tejaswin Shankar had won a bronze in men's high jump to open India's medal account in athletics in this CWG.
Sreeshankar became the first Indian male long jumper to win a silver at the CWG. Suresh Babu had won a bronze in the 1978 edition.
Sreeshankar had gone into CWG as gold medal favourite on the basis of his season's and personal best of 8.36m, which had put him in joint second ranking in the world this season.
Sreeshankar may have missed out on the cherished gold by the thinnest of margins but said this is just the beginning and he is hungry for more success.
"I've been waiting for a medal (at a global meet) for a very long time. I was seventh at World Indoor and World Outdoor, sixth at World Juniors, fourth Asian Indoors, sixth at Asian Games," Sreeshankar told PTI.
"Every time I was (finishing) 6th or 7th, so I was really happy with the silver. I have been waiting for a global medal for a very long time, but I kept missing out. This is a small step towards my big goal in the 2024 Paris Olympics and I'm working towards that," he added.
A gold was within his grasp and Sreeshankar knew that as well. Locked on at 8.08m with eventual gold medal winner Laquan Nairn of Bahamas, Sreeshankar would have won a gold if he had jumped 7.99m in his last attempt.
But to his and the Indian contingent's disappointment, Sreeshankar's foot on the board was found to be ahead of the foul line by 2cm as measured by the laser beam under the newly-introduced foul detector system.
Sreeshankar's medal in men's long jump comes 44 years since Suresh Babu's bronze at the Edmonton Commonwealth Games in 1978.
He is also fourth Indian jumper since Babu, Anju Bobby George (bronze at Manchester Games in 2002), and MA Prajusha (silver at New Delhi Games in 2010) to win a medal at the showpiece event.