Kushare Hunts For Shankar’s National Mark, With Tips From Sable

Tejaswin Shankar’s national high jump record of 2.29m stands for four years now. Sarvesh Anil Kushare was close to improving it at the National Games on Sunday. The Services athlete was a lone figure as he challenged himself and raised the bar to a new height after the rest of the field finished, at the IIT Grounds in Gandhinagar.

Kushare eventually took gold, but had to be satisfied with the measuring record and personal best of 2.27m. He had three attempts at 2.30m, but failed. Shankar did not participate in winning bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

T Aromal from Kerala came in second (2.19) and Chethan Balasubramanya from Services came in third (2.17). The old measurement record (2.16) was set in 2015 by Kushare’s coach Jithin Thomas.

The excitement increased when Kushare managed 2.23m, 2.25m and 2.27m. As he went for the national record, he was cheered on with thunderous applause from the spectators. He got close on the first try and the arena let out a collective sigh.

It wasn’t the first time the 27-year-old had faced himself. He also went for the record at the Inter-Services meeting.

“There’s been a lot of talk in the brotherhood that an Indian now has to cross 2.30m and that’s what I want to do,” said Kushare. “The weather was good, the support from the spectators and my teammates was great and I thought I would make it today. I’m a little disappointed that I just came up short, but I’ll have another shot at the Open Nationals. ”

Shankar set the national record in 2018. He then moved to the US on a scholarship.

Kushare has been in great shape this season and made consistent jumps. His previous best of 2.26m came in 2019, but he hadn’t improved after that.

“Because of Covid I couldn’t train properly and I couldn’t make progress. Only this year I feel better again. I wanted to participate in the CWG, but the qualifying mark was 2.27. I’m glad I’ve achieved it now.

“But the big goal is the national record first. This is my fourth attempt at the record since 2019. I felt so good today. Each time I have come closer. With a little more strength and speed training, I’ll be able to pass,” he said.

Kushare’s greatest source of inspiration remains the 3,000-meter steeplechaser Avinash Sable, with whom Kushare regularly discusses his training plans. While Sable, also an army man, is based in Bengaluru, Kushare trains in Pune.

“I look up at Sable and follow him closely. From where he has come and what he has achieved, you have to be really driven for that. The CWG silver medal was big and it was so good to see an Indian achieve such success. I’m always in touch with him and he keeps telling me about training schedules and nutrition.”

The fact that they both come from humble backgrounds has ensured that they connect right away.

Kushare comes from a farming family. The difficult conditions during his youth reinforced his determination to excel in the sport.

“There was no training facility at first. I played several sports before doing high jump. My coach at school was very passionate about high jump and he had made a makeshift pit. There were no proper shoes. Only after I came to the army in 2016 that I got better facilities.

“I will improve as I get more international competitions. I only have one in 2019 in South Asian Games (SAG).”

Services coach Jithin Thomas thinks Kushare can go up to 2.35m.

“He has the ability. He is very good in competitions. We need to do a little more work on strength training. I believe he can conquer greater heights.”

gowda wins

While swimming, Aneesh S Gowda made a splash and won the men’s 200m freestyle by outrunning Olympian Sajan Prakash. The Karnataka teenager, who won the event at the national championships last month, clocked 1:51.88s, at the Sardar Patel Aquatics Complex in Rajkot.

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