Bangkok: It was a day of firsts for Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) athlete, Tejaswin Shankar as he culminated a successful debut at the ongoing Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, with a podium finish. On the back of a gruelling Decathlon routine at the Inter-State Nationals, Tejaswin managed to amass 7527 points at the end of the two-day event to clinch the Bronze Medal.
While this wasn’t Tejaswin’s highest score of the season, having already scored a personal best of 7648 in April at Arizona, he followed it up with a 7546 at the Nationals, which guaranteed his qualification for the Asian Games, scheduled to take place in Hangzhou in September.
The 24-year-old from Delhi seemed satisfied with his overall performance and believes that it was a great feeling to get a medal in the first-ever Decathlon, where he is representing India in a major competition. He said, “This is my first competition medal in the decathlon, representing India. This gives me a lot of confidence going into the Asian Games because most of the competitors who I am going to be up against were here, and to be able to fair well against them was pretty good.”
“Conditions were a little testing, but interstate had prepared me well for this. It was surely a very good performance by my standards. If we look at the Indian outlook as fans, we still consider the Decathlon to be 10 different events, but we have to understand that this is one event that has ten components, and each cannot be judged in isolation from the other. We look at it from a macro perspective, and from that lens, I was pretty happy with my performance, he added.
Tejaswin also highlighted that while this was probably, from a points perspective, his lowest amongst the last three competitions, the build-up to the tournament and the recovery time between the two competitions played a part in his performance.
He said, “Every Decathlon is different. Some of the competitors that I was competing with had scores of over 7800 coming into the competition. The leader scored 200 points below his best, and similarly, the second-place holder scored 300 points below his best. I also scored a couple hundred points below. I did a decathlon three weeks ago, and the winner did a decathlon two months ago, and in such events, you cannot compete week in and week out. So, the impact on the body was clearly visible. All the events that were driven by power and required explosiveness are where the scores took a hit. Probably, in the High Jump and Shot Put, I could have done a bit better, but it was only my fourth time competing in the format, so with more time and experience, I am sure that I will improve further.”
Tejaswin scored nearly 200 points less than he liked on Day 1, having always stated that he prefers the competitions on Day 1. To his own surprise, despite the minor lags on Day 1, Tejaswin marked his highest-ever Day 2 score.
“This was my highest Day 2 score, and we have to understand that I am a very strong Day 1 athlete. Despite losing close to 100–200 points on Day 1, I was still able to improve my Day 2 score. So, it’s all about getting the scores up on Day 1 now, and we have enough preparation time before the Asian Games. If I can get my high jump up to 2.20 and bring down my timing in the 100 metres to 11 or 10.8 seconds, I don’t see why I can’t improve my score. At the moment, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning things for me. I cannot make too many structural changes with the time that we have left for the Asian Games, so the key objective is to get a good recovery in and build on the explosiveness so that I am fresh for the Asian Games,” he said
Finally, when asked if he was concerned about his performance on the Pole Vault, the Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist didn’t seem fazed. “In Pole Vault, before coming into this competition, my best was 3.80 meters, and here I was forced to start at 3.80. Even at the interstate, I didn’t start this high. I think I was lucky to get the 3.80 metres jump in and not get washed out of the competition. Now it is all about going back to the drawing board and figuring out Pole Vault again, getting onto bigger poles, and getting comfortable. Once that happens, I should be good. I am really not too worried about the discipline,” he concluded.