Triple jumper Renjith Maheswary joined a select band of Indian athletes to go out of the Olympic Games without a mark against their names at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old National record holder committed three fouls in the qualification round to make his exit when he could have been expected to easily make the final if one were to go purely by his recent claim that he was aiming for a mark beyond 17.30m.
As it turned out, running into mild headwinds Renjith cut the plasticine on all three occasions as he took off in the hope of making his first Olympic final. He had finished overall 35th in the last Olympics with a mark of 15.77 but had promised to make amends this time.
A bronze medallist in the last Commonwealth Games, with a National record of 17.07m, Renjith had made the Olympic standard with a performance of 16.85m in the Federation Cup at Patiala last April.
After that, he only had a 16.61 in one of the Asian Grand Prix meets as his second best for the season. He was, however, sanctioned a foreign training stint, along with coach Evgeniy Shivilli, at Forli, Italy, in June last in his quest towards Olympic glory. Renjith was also provided a training partner, long jumper Ankit Sharma, for the trip. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) selectors raised a query about Renjith’s fitness and form since he had not competed after May 14.
However, the AFI quickly cleared him following a report from his coach that he had done 16.45m on a shortened run-up, on the same day as the selection committee meeting. Later Renjith held out the hope that he was ready to jump his best.
What prompted the AFI to opt for a foreign base when it had enlisted the services of a foreign coach to train the jumpers in India and what kind of planning was done to keep Renjith out of any competition — even the Asian All Stars in Almaty where he was entered — in the final run-up to the Games will remain a mystery.
Renjith joined shot putter Bahadur Singh and discus thrower Anil Kumar, who could not register a mark at the 2004 Games, among the male Indian athletes who had an NM (no mark) against them in Olympics, in recent memory.
Long jumper Sanjay Kumar Rai also had that dubious distinction in the Sydney Olympics while at the Asian and Commonwealth level, Indian shot putters have “recorded” such feats.