Shankar hits out at AFI after snub

Not included in Asian Championships squad, high jumper says he is a medal contender

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20

National high jump champion Tejaswin Shankar has hit out at Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adille Sumariwalla for talking him down.

During a routine announcement of the Indian team for the Asian Championships, Sumariwalla today said that Shankar “is not a medal prospect and being national champion is of no value”.

Shankar cleared 2.28 metres last month when he won the Big 12 Collegiate meet in Texas, well above the 2.25m qualification mark set by AFI for selection for the Asian Championships, scheduled for April 21-24 in Doha, Qatar.

However, Shankar was not selected in the Indian team as AFI stuck to its decision of not selecting athletes who did not participate in the Federation Cup, recently held in Patiala.

Shankar, who is on a scholarship with the Kansas State University, had written to AFI that he would be unable to participate in the Federation Cup because of mid-term examinations. However, his request to be allowed to skip events in India was not granted.

Instead, Sumariwalla said that AFI didn’t think he was up to the mark. “We are okay to miss out on a medal in Doha because I don’t consider that he will get a medal,” Sumariwalla told the media today.

“We clearly told him that you have to come here and participate in one of the meets and show your performance. He was not able to do that and we have not selected him. He is not even in the TOP scheme. He is not a medal prospect and being national champion is of no value,” he added.

Angry reaction

Sumariwalla’s comments didn’t sit well with Shankar, who took to the social media to raise his objections. “I understand that I couldn’t take part in the fed cup organised by @afiindia & if that’s why I wasn’t considered for selection then I respect that decision,” Shankar wrote on his Twitter feed. “But if this is what Prez @Adille1 believes then I’m sorry to say but he has no right to judge if I am good enough or no.”

“I am not someone who wears the crown/takes false pride in being national champion and be content with my past successes. I know I can do better. But I also know that I am as capable as anyone else to win a medal for India,” he added.

Sreeshankar to sit out

M Sreeshankar too will have to sit out of the Asian Championships as AFI didn’t want to risk him aggravating an injury. Shreeshankar, who had initially opted out of the event owing to a heel injury, later informed AFI that he was fit to compete.

The AFI selection committee, however, did not select him in the Indian squad because they were of the opinion that the injury may flare up again or get aggravated if he competed so soon after recovering.

Medal contenders

Men

Neeraj Chopra (javelin), Mohd. Anas (400m), Jinson Johnson (800m & 1500m), Manjit Singh (800m), Dharun Ayyasamy (400m hurdles), Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase), Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (shot put) 

Women 

Swapna Barman (heptathlon), Hima Das (400m), Annu Rani (javelin), Dutee Chand (200m), PU Chitra (1500m)

Sanjivani in squad despite dope suspension

Sanjivani Jadhav, who recently returned positive for a specified substance, was also named in the team for 10,000m race subject to clearance by the NADA. 

The 22-year-old was not handed a provisional suspension by the NADA and she won the 10,000m gold in the just-concluded Federation Cup.

Trials on April 13

Of the 39 named by the AFI selection committee, the participation of as many as 11, including that of seasoned 3000m steeplechaser Sudha Singh, is subject to confirmatory trials to be held in Patiala on April 13. The number of the athletes can be increased as the AFI will also hold a selection trial for the men’s and women’s 4x100m relay races. pti

RELATED Ravi Shankar Prasad assumes charge as Telecom Minister