Birmingham, Winning the silver medal in the long jump at the 2022 Commonwealth Games not only redeemed Indian star Murali Sreeshankar after his Tokyo Olympic debacle, but it also strengthened his resolve to pursue his ultimate aim -- win a medal at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
One of the few Indian jumpers that have consistently crossed the 8-metre mark and also holds the national record at 8.36 metres, the 23-year-old Sreeshankar had a poor outing in Tokyo failing to make it to the final an effort well below his personal best.
On Thursday, Sreeshankar claimed a historic maiden silver medal, in slightly chilly and windy conditions, for an Indian long jumper in the Commonwealth Games bettering the bronze medal that Suresh Babu had bagged in 1978 at Edmonton, Canada. It was also the biggest medal of Sreeshankar's career that redeemed him and made for all the setbacks he has suffered in recent times.
Now that he has won his first medal on the global stage, Sreeshankar is raring to go and wants to target next year's World Championships and the 2024 Olympics after that.
Sreeshankar agreed that it was the biggest day of his life.
"To be honest, yes, because this is my first ever global medal. I have been waiting for a medal for a very long time. I have been seventh at World Indoor, seventh at world outdoors, sixth in world juniors, fourth at the asian indoors and sixth in the Asian Games, so every time six, seventh, sixth, seventh, and fourth. So really happy with winning the silver medal, representing my country at the Commonwealth Games," said Sreeshankar.
"I missed out on CWG 2018 because of the surgery I had. I am really happy with the silver medal I won. The competition was really very tough, both of us were tied at 8.08. I am happy that could win the silver medal," he added
The 23-year-old jumper said the conditions were tough and he was not at his hundred percent during the competition.
"Today, it was very windy, it was like tailwind whereas when during the qualifying round, it was a headwind. It was also very cold and in the first few jumps I could no get my rhythm going," he said.
Sreeshankar said now that he has won the silver medal, his immediate aim is to do well in the Monaco Grand Prix that he will be participating in a few days. "The next big target is the World Championships next year and of course, the ultimate aim is the Paris Olympics in 2024," said the jumper from Kerala.
Sreeshankar said it was because of javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra's triumph in Tokyo Olympics that other Indian athletes have started dreaming of winning the global level. "I had brought about a total change in perspective and thinking and we are all dreaming of medals at the international level, that's what Neeraj's triumph has done to us," he said.
The long jumper said he would dedicate his medal to the entire country and thank all those people that stood behind him during his difficult times.