'Injured' Jeswin Aldrin misses the cut as AFI announce World Championships squad
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Thursday announced the team for next month's World Championships in Eugene, but it was a particular non-selection that hogged the limelight. Jeswin Aldrin, who holds the record for the longest jump by an Indian — a wind-aided leap of 8.37m at this year's Federation Cup — was once again not picked in the 22-member squad.
"Jeswin's performances have shown a consistent dip over the past few meets. The selection committee in its wisdom has decided not to include him in the squad," AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said while announcing the team.
National record holder Murali Sreeshankar and Muhammed Anees Yahiya will represent India in the men's long jump. The World Championships allow a maximum of three athletes in each category. The qualifying mark for men's long jump was set at 8.22m, and Aldrin breached the mark twice (8.37m and 8.26m) at the Federation Cup in April.
In May, Aldrin went to Europe on his maiden international exposure trip and failed to hit the 8m mark. Competing two days after landing, Aldrin finished second at the Castiglione International Meeting in Grosseto, Italy (7.82m). Three days later, he ended fifth at Meeting Iberoamericano in Huelva, Spain with the best leap of 7.69m.
"We heard he may have twisted his ankle there," chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair said. "However, we have not seen any medical or injury report as he doesn't train with us."
"The main issue is with his recent form. How can we select someone who couldn't even finish inside the top three?" asked Nair, referring to Aldrin's below-par performance at the Inter-State meet in Chennai earlier this month.
Aldrin, who has already missed the bus for this year's Commonwealth Games on form, didn't respond to calls or messages.
However, sources close to him have debunked AFI's injury theory. "Jeswin has been completely injury-free this season. He didn't do well in Europe because he barely got any time to acclimatise. Remember, it was his first foreign tour and the body takes time to get used to changes in climate and diet. His Spain event was scheduled just two days after the Italian competition," a source said.
"His training is going very well. He increased his strides from 39 to 41 steps this year, and the results have been really good. There's no truth in the injury explanation."
Aldrin, meanwhile, was in the national capital on Thursday as had his visa appointment for the World Championships. On being asked why the athlete was asked to appear for a visa interview when he was not being selected, Nair said, "How do I know? The selection committee met only this evening and the team was announced." As per the AFI website, the chief coach is part of the 11-member selection committee.
The selected athletes will leave for the Chula Vista Elite Athletic Training Centre in the USA from where they'll proceed for the World Championships.