Indian Shaili Singh clinched a silver medal with a stunning 6.59-meter jump, missing the gold by just one centimeter in the women’s long jump, as the country wrapped up its campaign at the World Championships Under-20 Track and Field Championships in Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday with two silver and one bronze. This is India’s best performance at the World Junior Championships.
Shaili, who came to the final with the best qualifying round performance with an effort of 6.48 meters, improved her personal best with a superb effort of 6.59 in the women’s long jump final.
However, she lost the gold medal to Sweden’s Maja Askag, European junior champion, who climbed 6.60 meters. Mariia Horielova of Ukraine won the bronze medal with a season best effort of 6.50 meters.
Saili’s silver medal was India’s third medal at the 2021 World Under-20 Athletics Championships, adding to silver won by Amit Khatri in the men’s 10,000-meter walk and bronze by 4×400 mixed relay team.
This is the best medal crop India has ever won at the U-20 Athletics World Championships and the last two weeks after its best performance of seven medals, including one gold, at the Olympics. of Tokyo, bodes well for Indian athletics as javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra won an Indian’s first gold medal at the Olympics in the Japanese capital.
The three medals in Nairobi helped India finish 21st with Greece in the medal table as host Kenya dominated at home with 16 medals, including eight gold. Finland occupied a separate second place with five medals including four gold, as did Nigeria who also won three bronze medals but had to settle for third place as Finland also won a silver medal.
Shaili, 17, coached by former long jumper Anju Bobby George and her husband Robert Bobby George at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bangalore, had to settle for the silver medal despite a brilliant performance in Nairobi during which she improved her personal best twice, once to advance to the final (6.48) and then to the final – 6.59 meters.
In Sunday’s final, Shaili took the lead with a jump of 6.59m on her third jump and it looked like India would end up winning the gold medal she had been dreaming of for the past few days, but Sweden’s Maja cleared 6.60 on his fourth jump and won the gold medal as Shaili missed his next two attempts and only managed 6.37 meters in the sixth and final jump. Maja had also won gold in the women’s triple jump earlier in the championships.
Shaili started with a 6.34 identical to his first two jumps, but managed the big jump on the next attempt to take the lead.
His brilliant performance thrilled Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Chopra as he tweeted: “Many congratulations, Shaili! You came so close to gold today, and I’m sure you got it. a long way to go. Congratulations to @ anjubobbygeorg1 madam for your mentorship and advice to Shaili. “
Also on Sunday, the women’s 4×400 relay team missed out on the bronze medal as they finished fourth with a season-best time of 3: 40.45 in the final. Payal Vohra, Summy, Rajitha Kunja and Priya Mohan were the Indian 4×400 relay quartet who conceded a big lead after two stages as they finished behind Nigeria (3: 31.46), Jamaica (3: 36.57 ) and Italy (3: 37.18) as the Nigerians won by a wide margin after taking an early lead.
Among other Indians on Sunday, Ankita finished eighth out of 10 participants in the women’s 5000m final with a time of 17: 17.68. Ethiopia won gold and silver medals as Mizan Alem and Mizan Alem finished in 16: 05.61 and 16: 13.16 minutes while Uganda Prisca Chesang took bronze in 16: 31.78 minutes.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur also praised Shaili Singh’s performance at the U-20 Championships in Nairobi.
Union Justice and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted: “Congratulations to young Shaili Singh for winning historic silver medal for India in long jump at World Athletics Championships under 20. Shaili jumped 6.59m, just one centimeter behind European champion Maja Askag from Sweden who won gold with a jump of 6.60m! “
(With IANS entries)