KOCHI: How much can a running coach improve an elite triple jumper? Ask most people and the answer will be very little to none. But if you pitch the same query to Arpinder Singh, who recently brought home India’s first triple jump gold in 48 years from the 2018 Asian Games, you will get a completely different response.
Because it was under PB Jaikumar, a Kerala State Sports Council coach who specialises in running, that the 25-year-old Arpinder trained during his three-month-long preparations for Jakarta. “My technique wasn’t up to the mark and it was Jaikumar sir who helped me do fine adjustments that made all the difference,” said Arpinder.
The NIS-certified coach helped Arpinder better his techniques producing results instantaneously. “Arpinder and his training partner Ankit Sharma (national record holder in long jump) came to me a few months ago and asked me if I could help them,” said Jaikumar.
“I told them I was not a jumps coach, but they were of the opinion that my workouts will help them,” he said. “Arpinder was going all stiff during his takeoffs and wasn’t breaking the inertia of the landings such that he did not have any momentum going for him. We corrected those.”
The result? A leap into the history books at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium almost a fortnight ago. Jaikumar’s long-time ward Mohammed Anas Yahiya too won silver in the 400m race while also bagging another two silver medals in mixed and men’s 4x400m relays.
Yet, Jaikumar is not a happy man. “A 16.77m effort wasn’t anywhere close to what we were expecting from Arpinder. He was tense as was seen from his foul jumps and there was no one to guide or correct him,” he said. In fact, Arpinder had offered to bear Jaikumar’s expenses for the Jakarta trip, but the Athletics Federation of India had denied him the necessary accreditation.
With three of his trainees — Arpinder, Anas and Anu Raghavan — vying for medals, one can’t help but wonder why the coach was forced to stay back.
“In Anu’s case, it was clear from TV visuals that the bronze medallist Jamal Aminat of Bahrain had switched lanes. But the Indian officials failed to notice this and in the end, Anu missed out on a bronze which could have been a life-changing one for her,” said a disappointed Jaikumar.
The Sports Council coach currently trains eight athletes including Anas, Anu and Anilda Thomas under the state government’s Elite Athletics Training Centre at the Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education in Thiruvananthapuram. “What makes Jaikumar sir different from others is that he is very innovative and updated. He is also very dedicated,” said Anu.