JAKARTA : He tried the 100m. He failed. He tried the 200m. He failed. He tried the 400m. He failed. He tried the long jump. He failed in that too. Assuming that sports wasn’t going to be his calling, he turned to his dad for other ideas. His dad, an armyman, wouldn’t take no for an answer. The latter just asked him to keep his mind on sports and promised his son the world to help him achieve it. On Wednesday, inside a sweltering Gelora Bung Karno Athletics Stadium, Arpinder had realised his dad’s greatest dream — to see his son become a sportsman of repute. Arpinder had just won the triple jump (the fifth athletics discipline he tried) final at the Asian Games.
That he did so while suffering from severe dehydration is of immense credit to his mental resolve. “I was aiming for a national record (17.30m) and should have done it. But I was too dehydrated in the last three jumps. I was completely gone by the time I had finished the final,” he says. The final itself was a straightforward affair for the 25-year-old, who came into the event with the third-best jump in Asia this year (17.17m at Guwahati in June). He took the lead in his second attempt — a jump of 16.58m — before increasing that to 16.77m. Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Kurbanov went closest by jumping 16.62m but it was not enough to challenge the Sonepat native.
This, however, isn’t just a story of trying and trying till succeeding. His life story is also a cautionary tale of how easy it is to lose one’s way in life because of one bad decision. After winning a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, the Haryana athlete moved to London to train under Olympic gold medallist John Herbert. A car crash of a stint followed. “I moved to UK for better training and everything changed for me,” he says. “I wouldn’t say that the coaching was bad but it didn’t work out. They tried to change my technique, something you cannot change as I was taught one set of instructions for years.”
He insisted on staying some more time in London even though national jumps coach Bedros Bedrosian had called him on phone several times. “I had one look and called him back but he didn’t want to come,” Bedrosian tells Express. “I saw the training sessions. The coach was essentially a coach for the juniors. At times, I didn’t know whether Arpinder was coaching the coach or vice-versa. It was so bad.” He had gone to UK to chase his dream of qualifying for the Olympics. In a 10-month period, that dream had evaporated in front of his eyes.
Common sense, however, prevailed and he moved back to India before shifting base to Thiruvananthapuram ‘where he had to forget the things he learned,’ according to Bedrosian. “We worked on his landing, his last stride (one of the most crucial things for triple-jumper) and arm action.”
His arm action, last stride and landing each contributed to a significant piece of history as Arpinder collected India’s first gold medal in triple jump in 48 firstname.lastname@example.org