One of India’s rising track and field athletes Tejaswin Shankar set a new national record in heptathlon with his title-winning performance at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational, an indoor event at the intercollegiate level, in Kansas City, the USA on Saturday.
Turning out for his University side, Kansas State, the 22-year-old Indian athlete scored 5,650 points, erasing the previous best of 5,561 held by PJ Vinod set in 2008. Vinod’s performance came at the Asian Indoor Championships in Qatar.
Competing in his first-ever heptathlon, Tejaswin Shankar was firing on all cylinders as his performance also helped him set the meet record at the Ahearn Field House, bettering Colorado State's Josh Cogdill's mark of 5,217 points from 2017.
The Indian’s show was the seventh-best mark in the university’s history.
“In a word, TJ's (Tejaswin Shankar) performance was outstanding,” Cliff Rovelto, the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at K-State told the school website.
“First time he has ever competed in the heptathlon, the first time he has ever vaulted in his life. He touched a pole for the first time three months ago. Typically, that is a top 10, top-15 mark in the nation. It was pretty remarkable to do what he did, especially the degree of difficulty that it presents,” Rovelto pointed out.
Tejaswin Shankar started the meet well to win the 60m dash in 7.21 seconds and then topped the long jump with a distance of 7.31 metres. He, however, faltered in shot put, managing just 11.90 meters in his attempt to finish last.
The 22-year-old Tejaswin, a national record holder in the high jump, then rode on his ‘A’ game to win the high jump with a height of 2.25 metres and then went on to top the 60m hurdles in 8.32 seconds.
Though the Indian’s pole vault — an event he was attempting for the first time — was uninspiring, where he managed a best of 3.75 metres, Tejaswin Shankar capped off a memorable evening with a top-quality show in the 1000 metres, crossing the line in 2:41:22.
“The cumulative was what I was expecting, and I was happy to get the record,” Shankar said.
“I was so naive to think I could put all my personal bests together and get 6000 points. Turns out, there is no room for error. I was able to average all my personal bests together, which is how I got to 5600 points.
“This goal should be good enough to make nationals. It would be cool to make it to nationals in the high jump, triple jump, and the heptathlon. The only hurdle between myself and the heptathlon was the pole vault. Once I learned how to hold the pole, I was good to go,” Tejaswin Shankar said.