Nauraj almost makes history

naurajRIO DE JANEIRO: National high jumper Nauraj Singh Randhawa came close to opening a new chapter in track and field at the Olympics.

In the qualifying round at the Olympic Stadium here on Sunday, he narrowly missed the cut as four others who cleared the same height of 2.26m in their first attempt, qualified whereas he only did it on his second attempt.

Eleven jumpers cleared the 2.29m mark and qualified while the four others on 2.26m made up the 15 best among the 44 athletes who went through the qualifying round.

If Nauraj had cleared the mark on his first attempt, he would be Malaysia’s first track and field Olympian to make it into the finals.

However, he also failed to rewrite his national record of 2.29m that he did at the Singapore Open this year that gave him a ticket on merit to the Rio Games.

“I was nervous because this is my Olympics debut and also the first jumper to start in the qualifying round,” said the 24-year-old athlete who had interim Australian coach Alex Stewart as his mentor.

“Anyway, I am happy with my outing and the Olympics showed that I belong with the elite,” added Nauraj, who had a short-term training stint under Alex in Sydney, Australia.

He started the challenge on 2.17m which he cleared in one attempt, then 2.22m in his third attempt, 2.26m in his second attempt but failed to leap over the 2.29m mark in the three attempts permitted.