Tejaswin Shankar sets new national indoor high jump record

Tejaswin Shankar is only the second Indian track and field athlete to receive a full scholarship to a college in the USA.. Tejaswin Shankar

High jumper Tejaswin Shankar set a new national indoor record on Friday, when he cleared 2.19m at the Razorback Invitational at the University of Arkansas. Shankar, who already holds the outdoor national record of 2.25m, beat the old indoor record of 2.18m set by Hari Shankar Roy in 2007.

Shankar was jumping in only his second competition since he began competing for Kansas State University, which he joined on a scholarship last year. In his previous competition, on January 13, he had equaled Roy's mark of 2.18m at the KU-KSU-WSU Triangular.

Despite setting a new national record, Shankar finished just outside the medal bracket. After clearing 2.19m, he attempted to clear 2.22m, but was not able to make a clean jump. The meet was won by Randall Cunningham Jr., who jumped 2.25m. Cunningham, 22, though is in his senior year (year 4) in college, the second and third positions were taken by a junior (year 3) and a sophomore (year 2) respectively. Shankar as an 18-year-old freshman (first year of college) was the youngest of the competitors on the day.

Kansas State coach Cliff Rovelto was satisfied with Shankar's performance. "TJ had an indoor personal best today, and he is getting better," he said.

He will have further chances to improve on his performances. "It's a new indoor Indian record but I'd like to say I can do better than this. Just didn't' feel it today," Tejaswin wrote in a tweet. "We have competitions almost every week now. There are many more opportunities for me," he said.

As it stands, Shankar can qualify for the NCAA Division 1 Indoor Championships in March if his best jump is within the top 16 marks set by a collegiate athlete. That though, isn't his goal. Shankar's plan is to use the indoor competition as preparation for the Federation Cup that will serve as a qualification trial for the Commonwealth Games.

"I'd like to jump 2.25m once in an indoor competition before I come to India for the trials. The Federation Cup will be my first outdoor tournament this year. There is a difference between competing indoors and outdoors, but if I do clear that mark it will give me a lot of confidence."