'I would like to dedicate this medal to all those who stood by me, including my father, our Sports Ministry.'
Murali Sreeshankar was “very happy’ to win the silver medal in the men’s long jump at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Thursday, but a “bit disappointed” at being unable to take home the gold.
The 23-year-old from Palakkad Kerala cleared a distance of 8.08 metres in his fifth attempt to finish behind Laquan Nairn of The Bahamas in a nerve-wrecking final and become the first Indian male athlete to win a Commonwealth Games medal in the event.
"Very happy, to be honest. I have been waiting for this for a very long time.
"I desperately wanted a medal here. I knew that a good jump will fetch me a medal here. I wanted to do my personal best (8.36m) here but, unfortunately, the conditions were not quite favourable.
“It was windy and cold and the main challenge was to overcome these conditions.
"After the first round I got a good rhythm. Happy with the silver medal, even though a bit disappointed that I could not win the gold," said Sreeshankar after the event.
Reflecting on his performance in the final, Sreeshankar, the lone athlete to breach the automatic mark of 8 metres in the qualification round, with an opening round effort of 8.05m, said he would like to dedicate the historic silver medal to his father and the Sports Ministry of India.
"I am elated. A bit disappointed that I could not win gold but happy that I won silver for the country. I would like to dedicate this medal to all those who stood by me, including my father, our Sports Ministry."
Jovan van Vuuren (8.06m) of South Africa claimed the bronze medal.
Sreeshankar started with a successful jump of 7.60 metres in his first attempt. His second was a smooth leap of 7.84 metres. His third was also 7.84m. He fouled in his fourth attempt, stepping over the whiteboard.
That put him in sixth place and outside medal contention at the end of the fourth. However, his fifth attempt of 8.08m took him to second.
A dramatic final round jump saw him go well over the 8m mark. It looked good for gold, but to his, and the Indian contingent's, disappointment, his foot landed 2cm ahead of the line on the foot board.
The final attempt was thus ruled as a foul and he had to settle for silver.
Sreeshankar's silver was the best among Indian male long jumpers at the Commonwealth Games. Suresh Babu won a bronze in the 1978 edition.
Among the women, Prajusha Maliakkal won a silver in the 2010 edition in Delhi, while the legendary Anju Bobby George bagged bronze in 2002.