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Sreeshankar and Tejaswin real icons, they combine both academics and sports: Neeraj Chopra

"Though I excelled in sports, I could not give much attention to my studies. So both of you are real icons for the youth of this country," Neeraj Chopra tells Sreeshankar.

Neeraj Chopra and M SreeshankarNeeraj Chopra and M Sreeshankar during an interaction. (videograb/SAI)

India’s javelin star and Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra has said that Long Jumper M Sreeshankar and Tejaswin Shankar are the real icons as the duo have excelled not just in their respective sports but also in academics.

Neeraj, who became the first Indian to win the Dimond Trophy, last month, was talking to Sreeshankar at Gandhinagar, Gujarat where National Games are being played. In a light-hearted video interview shared by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Neeraj and Sreeshankar exchanged views on their games, goals and how proud they feel about podium finishes.

On being asked how he manage his studies with sport, Sreeshankar said, “When I was a kid, my father would ask me to focus only on studies. So I used to train less and study more. Whatever sport you play, studies always be with you. There are always chances of injuries in sports. So in case, sports goals don’t get materialised, studies will always help in life. I did my graduation but trained hard for Commonwealth and Asian Games.”

Hailing the duo, Neeraj added, “It’s really commendable to see you both doing well in both sports and studies. Though I excelled in sports, I could not give much attention to my studies. So both of you are real icons the youth of this country should look upon you both.”

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23-year-old Sreeshankar won a silver medal in the men’s long jump at the Commonwealth Games in August this year. He soared to 8.08m in his fifth attempt to finish second behind Laquan Nairn of Bahamas in a nerve-wracking men’s long jump final.

Recalling his jump Sreeshankar said, “Once I reached the final, I wanted to go for the gold. However, in the first three rounds, I was having trouble with my rhythm and the jump was not up to the levels of my satisfaction. So I decided to keep a cool mind and took it one step at a time.”

Despite Sreeshankar’s success on the athletics circuit, his focus on studies has never wavered. But he did have to make some huge sacrifices on the education front to ensure sports doesn’t get sidelined.

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After graduating from school, Sreeshankar applied for medical and engineering entrance exams. He cracked both entrances. At the NEET exams, he stood second in his state on sports quota and cleared engineering on pure merit. His NEET scores would have earned him a medical seat in any premier college in Kerala. But Sreeshankar had other plans and chose to take up a BSc in Maths instead.

Tejaswin Shankar has also won India’s first-ever medal in the high jump in CWG 2022. The national record holder won the bronze medal with a 2.22m high jump. 23-year-old Tejaswin was awarded a four-year scholarship at Kansas State University, Manhattan, United States, and he completed his graduation in business administration from the university.

First published on: 04-10-2022 at 04:16:58 pm
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