It is 1:30 in the afternoon and the oppressive sun beats down on Pinhat village. But despite the energy-sapping heat, people in the village erupt in joy when news streams in from hundreds of miles away in Kazakhstan that one of their own has clinched a gold medal at a long jump event, thereby booking a place at the Rio Olympics.
Local lad Ankit Sharma, who will turn 24 next month, broke his own national record by recording a leap of 8.19 metres to bag gold at the 26th G Kosanov Memorial Meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
But to put things into perspective, his effort was not a flash in the pan. People who have followed his career will remind you of Sharma’s incremental improvement in his performances year on year.
This is evident even during an off-hand perusal of his on-field resume. Last year at the National Games held in Kerala, he breached the hallowed 8m-barrier. But the icing on the cake was when he became world’s number one long jumper in the senior outdoor category, according to International Association of Athletics federation (IAAF). This February at the South Asian Games, Sharma broke a 27-year event record held by Pakistan’s Md. Urfan by registering a leap of 7.89m.