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High jumper Tejaswin Shankar moves Delhi High Court after exclusion from Commonwealth Games squad-Sports News , Firstpost

The high jump national record holder, who was snubbed despite achieving the CWG cut-off mark, has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court.

Tejaswin Shankar achieved the CWG qualification mark with a 2.27m jump at the USA’s prestigious NCAA Track and Field Championship in Eugene last Friday (10 June). AFP

High jumper Tejaswin Shankar has taken Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to Delhi High Court after the nation’s apex track and field body left the 24-year-old national record holder out of its squad for 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Shankar, who was snubbed despite achieving the CWG cut-off mark with a 2.27m jump earlier this month, has filed a writ petition for which the hearing will take place on Tuesday. In his petition, Shankar claims that his exclusion was ‘arbitrary’ and was among the medal prospect for the quadrennial event (slated to start 28 July in Birmingham) with only two athletes recording a jump higher than him this season.

Speaking to Indian Express, Shankar’s lawyer Malak Bhatt said that his client was “excluded at the whims of AFI and this action is absolutely against national interest”.

“A potential medal contender for the CWG Games has been arbitrarily excluded, despite meeting the eligibility mark set by the AFI,” said advocate Bhatt. “The decision is further illegal as Tejaswin ought to have been granted the exemption he sought as an elite athlete — in parity with the 3 others (Seema Punia, Neeraj Chopra, Avinash Sable) athletes who were given exemption from the inter-state competition on similar grounds. The current national record holder is being arbitrarily excluded at the whims of AFI and this action is absolutely against national interest.”

Shankar, who has been studying at Kansas University since 2018, became the second Indian after retired tennis star Somdev Devvarman to win NCAA championship last week with a best jump of 2.27m. The jump was well above the CWG qualifying standard of 2.25m mark. The performance, however, failed to please the Indian federation, which decided against including him for CWG selection while clarifying that mid-June’s National Inter-State Championships in Chennai was the last event for qualification.

Among other notable absentees from the selection list was long jumper Jeswin Aldrin, who was ignored after dip in performance post his big 8.37m jump at the Federation Cup in Kerala.

Earlier last week while announcing the 37-member CWG squad, AFI also claimed that Tejaswin never asked for his selection or for an exemption from the recently-concluded Inter-State Championship.

“It was clearly mentioned on the website this (Inter States) was the last event where one could try to register the qualification standard for the CWG and Worlds. Tejaswin did not want to be selected. Mr Shankar did not ask to be exempted from the Inter-State Championships. He did not take permission from us before he competed in the USA,” said Sumariwalla.

Following the squad announcement, Shankar made another plea for a selection trial in California, where a national camp is likely ahead of the World Championships in Oregon next month. However, AFI denied his request saying no further inclusion to the squad is possible for both Shankar and Aldrin.

In his petition, Tejaswin also opposed AFI claims of not asking for an exemption saying he requested national chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair in February to give him an exemption from Inter States as it clashed with the dates of NCAA Championships.

“Mr Radhakrishnan had on 11.06.2022 intimated the Petitioner via WhatsApp that he would be considered by the Selection Committee based on his 2.27m jump at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championship 2022, and repeatedly inquired about the status of the Petitioner’s visa for the CWG 2022,” read the petition as per the  report.

The petition also added veteran Seema Punia Antil, who won four medals at CWG, was included in the squad despite not meeting the qualifying mark and was subject to performance trials during the national camp in California.

“Punia was included in the squad despite not having met the qualification standard in any competition this season (she has a best this season of 55.97m as against the qualification standard of 58m). Despite this, Ms Punia has been allowed in the team provided she secures the qualification standard at California,” the petition reads.

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