Athens: Having started his season with early success in an international jumping meet in Greece, Commonwealth Games medallist Murali Sreeshankar is looking forward to continuing that throughout the busy and challenging competitive season leading to Asian Games in China. Sreeshankar clinched gold with a jump of 8.18m at the International Jumping Meet 2023 in Kallithea, Greece earlier this month. In a release issued by the Inspire Institute of Sport, Sreeshankar talked about his thought process during the meet in Greece.
"I didn't quite intend to push this hard, but of course, 8.20m was my target for this competition. I had competed in two meets prior as preparatory competitions to check where my body stood at that time. The competitive phase of the season has just started. So, I didn't want to push that hard, but of course, since 8.20m was my target for this competition, I wanted to hit my target," the 24-year-old was quoted as saying in the release.
The 24-year-old from Kerala said he struggled to hit the mark he had set for himself for the meet in Greece.
Sreeshankar, who won a silver medal in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, said, "The wind played a major part on the day and this was the first time in Kallithea that we faced a headwind. Usually, we have a good tailwind and the day before when we had the warm-up, the conditions were quite ideal. I was not quite able to get into my rhythm, so I had to keep my approach more in front because I was lacking some speed also."
The International Jumping Meet 2023 held in Greece was the Inspire Institute of Sport athlete's first competitive meet after injury.
"This was my second international competition of the season but my first competitive tournament. I have not been able to execute exactly as we planned. Usually during the competitions, my approach used to move back by around 30 or 40 centimetres, but this time around it came in front like 20-30 centimetres because I was lacking speed.
Sreeshankar also talked about his fitness and conditioning going into the busy season.
"I have to put in more effort getting into the rhythm and getting the feeling right towards the boat. So, in the next couple of competitions, I think I'll be able to get into the rhythm better and go for big jumps as I ease my body and mind into a competitive mode," Sreeshankar said.
Sreeshankar, who is great friends with fellow Indian jumper Jeswin Aldrin, with whom he shares a very healthy competitive spirit, spoke about how they push each other on the track.
"Jeswin had an incredible jump of 8.42m, which not only set the tone for Indian jumpers but also for all the jumpers in the world. This healthy competition will of course help all the other jumpers rise and improve our own performances.
"It's very important that during this period, we get to compete with each other at international competitions to gain more international exposure with top athletes from around the world. We want to get prepared for the big stage events like the World Championships and Asian Games which are lined up for this year," said Sreeshankar.
Sreeshankar will compete in the Paris Diamond League that will be held on June 9, where he will go up against the best athletes from across the globe. Sreeshankar, who is coached by his father S. Murali, a former triple jump athlete and silver medallist at the South Asian Games, went on to talk about the fast-approaching hectic competitive season. Sreeshankar said, "This season is pretty challenging because the Asian Games will be happening in the first week of October and the Asian Games qualifiers will take place in the first week of June. So, we have to plan the season very carefully so that we could maintain the form and sustain the performances till the Asian Games. We have the World Championships in August, and the Asian Championships in July, so we have to prioritise the kind of events which we have to focus on and give our best towards the main competition, which will be the World Championships."
He concluded by talking about what he feels he should focus on for performing at his peak. "Right now the main focus for me will be to get the rhythm right on the approach, that's what I'm lacking a bit. We figured it out in the first competition which we had in Kallithea. So now we are trying to figure out how I can improve my last phase of the approach and the overall rhythm so that I will be able to execute the take-off properly for the jumps," Sreeshankar said.—IANS