Teenage triple jumper Praveen Chithravel has found the right source for motivation. He has been watching YouTube videos of Jonathan Edwards, the former British triple jumper and world record holder. Edwards’ mark is over two decades old and he is widely considered as a technically accomplished jumper. In a discipline where a force of over 10 times of the body weight can be exerted on each leg during the hop and step phase, young jumpers strive to develop an ideal technique for injury prevention and distance maximisation.
Chithravel, at 17, is far from a finished product yet he has shown enough promise to be considered one for the future. At the 23rd Federation Cup National Athletics Championships on Saturday, Chithravel surpassed the qualifying guidelines for the Asian Athletics Championships to be held in Doha in April. This at an age when he is still eligible to compete at junior competitions.
In his fourth attempt, Chithravel’s jump was measured at 16.51 metres, just over the guideline of 16.50. Twice he bettered the national junior record (16.45), set in 2010 by CWG medallist Arpinder Singh. He clocked 16.47 in his second attempt, and then added four centimetres to it.
Surprisingly, Chithravel said his first jump of 15.89 metres was the only technically correct one because he managed to control his speed on the runway without worrying about overstepping on the take-off board. He was so anxious about it all going wrong that he didn’t even realise that Arpinder was also in the fray in the triple jump final.
“Frankly, I didn’t realise he was also participating. I didn’t notice it during the competition and realised it only after the event,” Chithravel said.
Arpinder finished fourth with a best of 16.34 metres but as the 26-year-old is targetting the World Championships in September, he has time to hit peak form.
Chithravel, the son of a marginal farmer from Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, was pumped up when 16.51 was displayed on the digital board. “When I came to the Federation Cup, I felt like I could touch 16.70m or event 16.80m. But because I have changed my technique over the past three months it takes time to get used to it. I have increased my speed but at the same time, because I am much faster now, at the back of my mind there is this thought that I could overstep. I am working on it and hopefully in the future I will be able to take full advantage of my new-found speed,” Chithravel said.
Chithravel’s coach Antony Yaich, a Frenchman who coaches at the JSW’S Inspire Institute, made the jumper aware of how he took off from nearly 30 centimetres short of the board in his second jump.
“That could have been 16.70 or so. A really good jump for a youngster like Chithravel,” the coach said.
Yaich is the one who introduced Chithravel to the nostalgic reels of Edwards. Shortly after Chithravel won the bronze at the Youth Olympics in October, he came under the wings of Yaich. The coach, realising that Chithravel had some rough edges, decided to re-tweak his technique in an effort to increase his speed on the runway. Though Chitravel has gained speed, it can be counter-productive if there is no control, Yaich says. His ward’s performance on Saturday, however, brought a smile to the coach’s face.
Among Yaich’s trainees is Yoann Rapinier, the French jumper with a personal best of 17.45 metres. The coach was open to comparing Rapinier with Chithravel.
“When it comes to speed, strength and talent, I believe Chithravel is ahead of Rapinier. So he has it in him to consistently jump well over 17 metres. Hopefully, by the time of the World Junior Championships next year he will be a 17-plus jumper,” Yaich added.
Just over a fortnight ago, Chitravel had managed just 15.40 metres at the Indian Grand Prix in Delhi as he was testing waters after recalibrating his technique. He had won bronze at the GP. The gold at the Fed Cup with an improvement of well over a metres, indicates that Youth Olympics bronze-medallist is on the right path.
Dharun qualifies for Worlds
There is something about the blue track at the National Institute of Sport in Patiala which helps 400 metre hurdler Dharun Ayyasamy give his best. At the last edition of the Federation Cup, Ayyasamy first broke the national record when he clocked 49.45 seconds and then improved it (48.96) on way to winning silver at the Asian Games. On Saturday, Dharun was not really challenged by the rest of the field, but he even surprised himself by not only qualifying for the Asian Championships but bettering the World Championships standard of 49.30 seconds by stopping the clock at 48.80.
“My coach told me to focus on the Asian Championships and that is what I was trying but I pushed myself a little and managed to qualify for the worlds. Frankly, I am also surprised. Till about 10 days ago I was not feeling great because I felt my hamstring was feeling a little tight, especially in the last 50 metres. But today was a good day for me,” Ayyasamy said.
Kerala’s MP Jabir finished second with 49.53 seconds, which was good enough to earn him an Asian Championships berth. In the women’s 400 m hurdles Saritaben Gayakwad of Gujarat and Arpitha M of Karnataka met qualifying guidelines and so did Gomathi Marimuthu of Tamil Nadu and Twinkle Chaudhary of Punjab in the women’s 800 metres.