Long jumper Shaili Singh wins silver for India at U20 World Athletics Championships

world athletics championship

Shaili Singh, a very gifted long jumper, finished second in the U-20 World Athletics Championships on Sunday, missing out on making history by a tiny 1cm.

On the final day of the competition, the 17-year-old Indian’s personal best performance of 6.59m was not enough to win gold, as she was pipped to the post by Maja Askag of Sweden, the incumbent European junior champion, who achieved 6.60m for the top place.

Shaili was ahead at the conclusion of the third round, but the 18-year-old Swede surpassed her in the fourth round by a scant 1cm, which proved pivotal in the end.

Ukraine’s Mariia Horielova won bronze with a best leap of 6.50m.

Though the country had won one gold each in the previous two editions — by Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra (2016) and quarter-miler Hima Das — India finished their campaign with a best-ever medal tally of two silver and one bronze (2018).

The mixed 4x400m relay quartet and 10,000m race walker Amit Khatri had previously won bronze and silver at these championships, respectively.

Shaili got off to a strong start with a 6.34m and then duplicated the distance before putting in her finest effort in the third round. Her next two tries were fouls, and she failed to clear the 6.60m in her final jump, leaving the child heartbroken at having missed out on a gold and an opportunity to make history.

Shaili, regarded as one of India’s most promising young athletes, won the qualification round on Friday with a best leap of 6.40m.

The athlete, who was born in Jhansi and reared by a single mother who worked as a tailor, now trains in Bengaluru at Anju Bobby George’s academy. Bobby George, Anju’s husband, is her coach.

She had previously set a personal best of 6.48m in the women’s long jump event at the National (Senior) Inter-State Championships in June. She is the current world No. 2 in the U-18 age group and holds the U-20 national record.

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