Fewer strides, clearer mind: How Jeswin Aldrin smashed long jump National Record

Jeswin’s jump was one centimetre more than Militiadis Tentoglou’s gold medal-winning effort at the Tokyo Games and six centimetre more than Wang Jianan’s effort to win the 2022 Worlds.

Published : Mar 03, 2023 10:45 IST

Jeswin Aldrin set a new national record. (File Photo)
Jeswin Aldrin set a new national record. (File Photo) | Photo Credit: AFP

Jeswin Aldrin set a new national record. (File Photo) | Photo Credit: AFP

With an inspired technical tweak in his running approach trading outright speed for control, and by taking a more uniform perspective to training and competition, 21-year-old Jeswin Aldrin claimed the national long jump record on Thursday. Jeswin did more than simply claim the national record.

His leap of 8.42m in the Indian Open Jumps Competition at the Inspire Institute of Sport in Vijaynagar of course erased Murali Sreeshankar’s mark of 8.36m set last year.

But it also leapfrogged him to first place in the world outdoor top lists for the season and placed him fifth in the all-time Asian list.

Jeswin’s jump was one centimetre more than Militiadis Tentoglou’s gold medal-winning effort at the Tokyo Games and six centimetre more than Wang Jianan’s effort to win the 2022 Worlds.

You’d never have guessed the magnitude of his feat from Jeswin’s reaction. As he landed towards the end of the sand pit, he tossed a handful of dirt skywards, then walked over to the technical officials to confirm whether the trailing wind was under the legal limit (at 1.8m/s it was just under the 2 m/s limit).

That ensured there was no repeat of the disappointment from a year ago when competing at the Federation Cup at Kozhikode, Jeswin recorded a jump of 8.37m only to be denied when the wind meter suggested he had been aided by a tailwind of 2.1m/s.

Once Jeswin received the all-clear, he bowed to the small group of spectators who were watching him compete on his home turf. Then with no fist bumps, high fives and zero fuss Jeswin called an end to his competition and implied he was waiting for a higher profile occasion to unleash something bigger.

“I’ve going to save the big jumps for the World Championships,” said Jeswin who had already qualified for the Worlds at the National Games last year.

Simple Approach

‘It wasn’t just Jeswin’s reaction after his feat that stood out. He says he didn’t have any special preparation at the start of the day either.

“In the past, I’d try to get myself hyped for a competition by watching inspirational long jump videos. But now I don’t do anything special. This season I’m trying to be in the same mindset in both training and competition. My focus for this year is to get the same feeling in both training and competition. ” he says.

In doing so, Jeswin says he can avoid feeling the pressure he sometimes feels while competing at a high profile event.

“There used to be a difference in how I’d be able to perform in training and during competition. I felt the way to prevent that was to approach both situations the same way. It isn’t just that I try to be relaxed during a competition. I also try to ensure that I’m treating training sessions as if I’m in a competition. Even during training, I try to visualise myself competing in front of a big stage even when there’s no one watching,” he says.

Change in Tenchnique

It’s not just a mental shift to how Jeswin trains. Key to his success was also an adjustment to how he approached his run-up to the take-off board. Where he once used to stride 20 times before hitting the take-off board, he only hits the track 18 times now.

The change was made after Jeswin seemed to struggle in finding his correct run-up at the Asian Indoor Championships at the start of last month. Although he won a silver medal with a best of 7.93m, Jeswin and his coaches realised something was wrong.

While he used taking 20 strides unto the takeoff board, Jeswin found out that he was struggling to correctly find the take-off point.

“He would slow down and go fast because he was trying to find it (the board) on the runway,” says two-time World silver medallist Yoandro Betanzos who has been coaching Jeswin for over a year now.

On their return back to India, Jeswin and the coaches decided to change their approach, removing two fewer strides from his run-up. In addition, where he once would explode from a standing start, Jeswin now runs in place before striding down the runway.

“That way he can build up momentum before he starts running,” says Betanzos.

Although he only has been training with the new runway approach for a little over a week, Jeswin and his coaches feel the change in technique has worked.

“At the Asian Championships, I was struggling because I just wanted to run fast. So I was going fast and then slow during running. Now the approach is smooth,” says Jeswin.

Indeed on Thursday, what would have been particularly pleasing to Jeswin and his coaches was the fact that not only did he not foul a single attempt but also was able to comfortably clear the 8m mark on each of his three attempts. Jumps of 8.05m, 8.26m and finally 8.42m are clear signs that he was finding his rhythm.

Coach Betanzos, though thinks, Jeswin can go even further. “In his first attempt (8.05m) he was nearly 30 centimetres behind the board and in his last attempt he was still 10 cm from the edge of the board. He can still do more,” he says.

One big jump though is not Betanzos’ priority. “I would rather have him jump 8.20m regularly than have him make one big jump of 8.40m and then not being able to jump over 8m at the rest of the time,” says Betanzos.

Jeswin feels the same way. “My mindset has changed a lot. Last year I was just thinking I just need to top further. This year, the focus is on staying consistent,” he says.

That also means that Jeswin isn’t particularly worried that his jump of 8.42m, has come well before the start of the Olympic qualification period.

“I’m not thinking of how I’m going to qualify for the Paris Olympics. If not now, I’ll be able to do it later. I’m just focussing on technical things. If I’m consistent, I’ll qualify for Paris,” he says.

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