The India contingent has made a brilliant start to their campaign at the 2022 World Athletics Championships with Murali Sreeshankar and Avinash Sable both qualifying for the finals.
Sreeshankar in fact has become the first Indian male ever to qualify for a long jump final of the World Athletics Championships, with his effort of 8 meters, which he did in his second attempt, to finish second in qualification round Group B, and seventh overall.
27-year-old Sable, who had also qualified for the 3000m steeplechase final during 2019 edition in Doha, finished third in heat number 3 clocking 8:18.75 to qualify for the finals to be held on Monday.
23-year-old Sreeshankar shares the joint-second spot among season leaders along with Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou. The Greek is the favourite to win gold.
Anju Bobby George was the first Indian to make it to the World Championships long jump finals and first to win a medal -- bronze in 2003 edition in Paris.
Two other Indians in the fray, Jeswin Aldrin, who was cleared for the championships despite failing to impress the national selectors in two rounds of trials, and Muhammed Anees Yahiya could not make it to the finals after finishing ninth and 11th in Group A qualification round with best jumps of 7.79m and 7.73m respectively.
Those who achieved 8.15m or the 12 best performers from across the two groups qualify for the finals to be held on Sunday.
23-year-old Sreeshankar has been a consistent performer with his 8.36m jump at the Federation Cup in April, followed by 8.31m and 8.23m at an event in Greece and National Inter-State Championships respectively.
Only Japan's Yuki Hashioka (8.18m) and Marquis Dendy (8.16m) of USA crossed the 8.15m mark during the qualification round of two groups.
Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.03m) of Greece, who won Group B qualification round ahead of Sreeshankar, world season leader Simon Ehammer (8.09m) of Switzerland and Cuba's Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Maykel Masso (7.93m) were also among those who qualified for the finals.
Sreeshankar, who is a part of the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme started by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, holds the national record, 8.36m, set in 2022. He is coached by his father, S Murali, who himself is a former triple jump athlete and a silver medalist at the South Asian Games.
Sable led his steeplechase heat till around midway of the race before Hailemariyam Amare (8:18.34) of Ethiopia and Evan Jager (8:18.44) of USA took over him.
The top three in each heat and the next six fastest runners across the three heats qualify for the final.
Sable has been in a national record breaking spree in recent times with the latest being the 8:12.48 effort while finishing fifth at the prestigious Diamond League Meeting in Rabat last month.
(With inputs from PTI)