India's Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker scripted history on Sunday as they won the gold and silver, respectively, in the men's triple jump final at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday. It was India's first ever 1-2 in CWG men's athletics and it could have been a clean sweep but Praveen Chithravel came fourth.
Eldhose's gold medal was India's first in men's triple jump - the previous best showing had come way back in 1974 when Mohinder Singh Gill jumped 16.44m to win silver.
Aboobacker [personal and season best of 17.19m] and Praveen [personal and season of 17.18m] were the best jumpers in the field going into the event but Eldhose, who became the first triple jumper to reach the finals of the World Athletics Championships last month, stole the limelight.
Eldhose got off to a poor start: 14.62m. It was the third worst jump of the day among all the athletes. Praveen was second at 16.75m and Aboobacker was third at 16.57m.
Eldhose only got better from there - 16.30m in his second attempt. Then came the best jump of the afternoon: 17.03m. The 17m mark is the benchmark of quality for triple jumpers, much like the 85m mark now for javelin throwers or the 8m mark for long jumpers. It was a huge improvement on his personal best coming into the competition and made him the third Indian to cross the mark this year, and propelled him into the lead.
The Indian contingent in the stands realized the significance of the moment. Murali, long jumper Sreeshankar's father [who was also in the stands for high-jumper Tejaswin Shankar's event] rejoiced, while Tejaswin also celebrated. The dream of two Indians on the podium was starting to take shape into reality.
Praveen, with a best of 16.89m today, slipped into the fourth spot while Aboobacker was third to Bermuda's Jah-Nhai Perinchief [16.92m].
Aboobacker then turned on the afterburners and came up with a huge 17.02m in his fifth attempt, a mere cm lesser than Eldhose, to edge out Perinchief to the second spot. He would stay second and Eldhose retained the top spot to record India's best-ever display in men's athletics at the Commonwealth Games.