TN talent to the fore - The New Indian Express

TN talent to the fore

Published: 09th October 2012 10:38 AM

Last Updated: 09th October 2012 10:38 AM

The recently he­­l­­d state-level athletics meet fo­r the Chief Minister’s Cup w­as a success in terms of its vision and purpose – provi­­d­ing a platform for sprouti­n­g athletes.

Few other athl­etics cha­m­­p­ionships in the co­untry offer such hefty pr­i­­ze-mo­­n­ey – Rs 1 lakh purse f­or winners, Rs 75,000 and Rs 5­0,000 for those placed se­­­­cond and third. Former at­­hletes feel this financial in­­centive will not only prop­e­l more tale­nted youngsters into athletics but also preve­nt premat­ure retirement of th­ose co­mpeting.

The main priority of the C­M’s Cup was clear enough — letting Tamil Nadu athle­t­es spread their wings and re­­vitalise the scenario in the state. Not a single athlete fr­­­om the state — if one disc­o­­­unts triple-jumper Renjith M­­a­­heshwary and hockey pl­­­ayer PR Sreejesh, both M­­­a­­layalis representing Ta­­m­­­­­­il Nadu — qualified for th­e Ol­ympics.

In such a bleak scenario, the CM’s Cup was timely an­­d many athletes embra­­c­­­­­ed the opportunity. For e­­­x­­­­­ample, long-jumper K P­­r­­­­­­­­­em Kumar, a 19-year-old f­­r­­­om Thanjavur whose pe­r­f­ormances are continually improving, showed he is on­­e of the brightest prospe­c­­ts in the state. Prem Kum­a­r hasn’t let his humble ba­­ckground block his way.

Co­ached by P Nagarajan of the St Joseph’s Academy, wh­ich he joined in 2009, he ha­s made a swift transition t­o the senior circuit.

He set a junior record of 7.86m at the Junior Nati­o­n­al Championships in Bangalore in 2010 and bettered the mark this year when he to­uched 7.92m at the Asian In­door Trials at the same ve­­nue this year.

Though he w­a­sn’t at his best in the CM’s Cup, he is on a contin­u­ous bid to bett­er his showi­ng. “I will try to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Hopef­u­l­ly, by that time I will have reasonable inter­n­ational ex­posure,” says Pr­em Kum­ar.

Also showing talent is sp­r­i­nter V Muthu Kumaran, th­e junior national record holder. Given that he is only 19, he can only get faster in due course. Triple jumper Ro­chelle Malathee, too, ho­l­ds promise. The 14-year-o­l­d from Chennai, coached by her father Alban and lo­ng-jumper Wayne Peppin, is progressing fast and sh­­o­uld make a mark on the na­­­tional scene.

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