The Indian Grand Prix of Athletics is going on in full swing at the Patiala National Institute of Sports campus. Here just like hundreds of other athlete national record holders in long jump, Murali Shreeshankar is also keen to put his best foot forward in the second leg of the event which is scheduled on Thursday.
The 21-year old is focused on securing qualification for the Tokyo Olympics which will be held later this year. He needs to cross the 8.22m mark to achieve the qualification and secure his dream spot in the Tokyo Olympics. Shreesankar’s personal best which is also the national record for India in the long jump is 8.20m which was set by him back in 2018 during the Open Athletics Championships which was held in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.
The Kerala born youngster is aiming high at th Indian Grand Prix as he has only one motive, that is to better his personal record. “I have got my Covid-19 test done. All is good. I’m excited about competing in the competition after more than a year. My main focus during the competition will be on achieving a personal best, and go past the Olympic qualification mark,” Sreeshankar told IANS.
After a dream 2018 where he set the national record, the next year was not that great for the 21-year old athlete. He could only manage to earn the 22nd spot in the World Championships in Doha as he crashed out of the preliminary round with his best jump being 7.62m.
“I couldn’t achieve a good rhythm, and it resulted in a poor performance in the jumping pit,” he reflects on his poor performance.
A drastic measure was on the cards especially after the poor performance at the World Championships in Doha. Therefore Shreeshankar quit the national camp and started training with his father S Murali. His father is also a well known athlete as he was an international triple jumper. Therefore he guided the youngster in several aspects and taught him many technicalities to improve on his jumps. He also set up a gym at their home in Palakkad for Shreeshankar to stay fit during the lockdown and made his focus on mental and strength conditioning as outdoor training was not allowed.
It was only in May when the Government issues the SOPs and then a local medical college allowed Shreeshankar to train at their facilities. Being an international athlete I had the privilege to train at the medical college ground. But when the cases surged, I quit outdoor training. It was tough to maintain fitness,” he added.
Now with all the hard work of the last year behind him, it is time for Shreeshankar to prove it with results. “I’m hopeful all the hard work done under difficult circumstances would enable me to achieve a good result on Thursday. A good rhythm should assist me to sail past my personal best of 8.20m,” he concluded.