It was the season-opener for the country’s finest jumpers but a crucial equipment was missing at the recent Indian Open jumps meet in Thiruvananthapuram.
Many of the stars, including triple jumpers Karthik Unnikrishnan and Eldhose Paul – the latter had produced the third-best Indian performance in history with his 16.93m – and young long jumper Ancy Sojan had hit personal bests while M. Sreeshankar produced a stunning season-opener but none of the performances in these events will go into the World Athletics season’s top lists or be counted as a qualification performance as per the world body’s rules for its majors including this year’s Worlds. The reason: there was no wind gauge to measure wind speed and direction.
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“Performances which are wind assisted or for which a wind reading is not available will be considered illegal,” says World Athletics on its explainer on records and top lists. “They shall be eligible for world rankings subject to a correction mechanism (points deducted).”
So, how did the mess-up happen? “The AFI (national body) had sent the person but he forgot to bring the wind gauge. And he came late in the night,” said P. I. Babu, secretary of the Kerala Athletics Association and also the Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) joint secretary.
The officials realised it only on the morning of the meet and the only other working wind gauge in the State was at the Calicut University, near Kozhikode, some 400km away.
Thus the stunning performances of the jumpers in the season-opener will have an asterisk against them in the World Athletics’ results section with a ‘NWI’ denoting no wind instrument. And nobody will know whether the athletes enjoyed any wind assistance.
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Many of the jumpers appear to have achieved the AFI’s qualification guidelines for this year’s Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. So, will the national federation count these performances for qualification purposes?
“The selection committee will decide. They will take everything into consideration. The athlete will not suffer,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla told Sportstar on Thursday.