Murali Sreeshankar claims silver and Paris Olympics 2024 spot at the Asian Athletics Championships -

Murali Sreeshankar claims silver and Paris Olympics 2024 spot at the Asian Athletics Championships

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Khel Today Bureau 

Bangkok: Long Jumper Murali Sreeshankar has been in scintillating form in 2023, and on Saturday, at the ongoing Asian Athletics Championships, Sreeshankar lived up to the expectations as the 24-year-old from Palakkad not only clinched the silver medal with a huge 8.37 metres jump on his sixth attempt but also booked a spot in the Paris Olympics 2024.

Sreeshankar in the post-competition press conference highlighted what worked well for him and also discussed the things that drastically changed since a tough outing at the Lausanne Diamond League in June, wherein weather played a key role in dampening the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) jumper’s performance.

Speaking about his preparation and performance at the competition, Sreeshankar said, “All the other jumpers in the competition haven’t competed for the last two months. They have been preparing primarily for the Asian Championships. They had a good time for preparation, and I came from Switzerland last week. Having said that, even the 8.40 jump from Yu Tang Lin came as a surprise for me, but in such big competitions I have to hold my nerve, and I believe I did a good job in pulling off a strong jump on my sixth attempt.”

Further adding to the strategy conversation, Sreeshankar said, “It all depends on the warm-up. To get the body warmed up, we have to spend a lot of time, but at the same time, it shouldn’t affect our fitness. If we do more warmups, we won’t have much energy to sustain until the sixth jump. In Lausanne, it was cold and windy. Anyway, big jumps were not possible, so 8 metres or 8.10 will definitely be a placing jump. Even Tentóglou was also jumping 8-8.10. This season has taught me to adapt to different weather conditions. When I landed last week in Bangkok, it was very hot and humid, and I bought big bottles of water to constantly keep my hydration in place. I coordinated with my nutritionist at the Inspire Institute of Sport to make sure I am taking in enough fluids and staying hydrated. The main aspect of today’s performance was the warm up. We strategized really well for the final, but if I had got this distance in the first three jumps, things could have been different.“

Sreeshankar’s farthest jump in the season has been 8.41 meters, which the Commonwealth Games Silver Medallist achieved at the inter-state nationals that helped him qualify for the Asian Games. Going a step further, Sreeshankar also breached the Paris Olympics qualification mark of 8.27 metres opening up his 2024 season for a longer preparation period.

“I thought the winning distance would be 8.20–25 metres. I knew that the Chinese Taipei jumper was there, and there was another guy whose season best was 8.22. Our first target was to get the Olympic qualification mark of 8.27 because I felt very good at training in Switzerland last week. When we checked the weather in Thailand, it was also hot and humid, and the coach said that it was very much possible. Considering the fact that I have qualified for the Paris Olympics 2024, I am very relieved, and I will open up my 2024 season very late. I will probably start only in May/June. Hence, I will have a good amount of time to prepare in the off-season. The Asian Games will end in the first week of October and after rest and recovery, I will only be able to start my training by the first or second week of November. I need solid time for the Olympics preparations,” he said

Finally, Sreeshankar reminisced on the fact that after the last jump, he almost thought that it was surely over 8.45 metres and he broke his own personal best as well as the National Record.

“When I saw my last jump, I definitely thought it was above 8.45 because it was very close to the 8.50 mark, and I thought it was a winning jump, but unfortunately we fell short. All in all, it was a really good competition. In the previous jumps, I was taking off much behind the board, mostly just touching it. I knew that today would be a good day for jumping because the weather was similar to Bhubaneswar and my body reacts very well to the hot and humid conditions, and we did that pretty well. We were able to program the warm-up really well today. We didn’t lose much energy, and we were able to preserve it for the full duration of the competition, which was about two hours,” he concluded.

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