CHENNAI: It was a difficult start to 2018 for long jumper Sreeshankar Murali. After missing out on the Commonwealth Games due to an appendix surgery, he was not able to jump to the best of his abilities at the Asian Games. However, the youngster ended the year on a high at the Open Nationals in Bhubaneswar, where he broke the national record (8.20m).
Much has been talked about the new generation of elite Indian athletes and how they can finally end India’s athletics medal drought at World Championships or Olympics. While the likes of Hima Das and Neeraj Chopra have given us a glimpse of their talents by multiple medal-winning displays last year, Sreeshankar is yet to do so at the international circuit in the senior level.
Preparations have begun as he targets to achieve the same in the first international competition of the calendar year — Asian Athletics Championships in Doha. But while most of his colleagues are training abroad to excel in April, Sreeshankar is doing the same in his hometown.
“The competition is happening in Doha where it will be hot. The climatic conditions here will help me when I go there. I will be taking part in the Indian Grand Prix 1 on 23rd of this month. While I have time till the Federation Cup in March, the aim is to qualify as soon as possible,” said the Palakkad native.
That being said, the 20-year-old is planning for a stint abroad after April and is looking at Florida as a possible destination. However, a decision regarding how to fund the trip is yet to be taken. Sreeshankar is part of the TOP Scheme and is also sponsored by JSW. Antony Yaich, head coach of JSW’s Inspire Institute of Sport which supports Sreeshankar, is also looking at some European countries and competitions to help him get vital exposure.
A lot of Indian athletes are training abroad with personal foreign coaches and a scientific team analyse their body and recovery process. Some of them also cite better facilities as a reason to go outside India. But Sreeshankar is more than happy to stay put and train with his father S Murali, a former SAF Games triple jump silver medallist and a SAI approved personal coach. “It’s not like we are following an unscientific approach. A lot of people are thinking like that. I have reached so far because of my father. He was an athlete himself and has trained under a German coach back in his days. So he knows how to go about things. Especially after my surgery last year, he was key in the way I recovered and broke the national record.”
Compared to last year, not much has changed with regards to his training routines. The personal nutritionist’s inputs, who has been alongside Sreeshankar post surgery, has been highly benefical for him. “My doctor Siddharth Unnithan recommended about Ansa Saju. She has given me a list of proteins, carbohydrates and other important things that should be taken at the right intervals. My body has reacted very well so far,” he revealed.