Jeswin Aldrin targets Sreeshankar's national record

Happy but bit worried too, says chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair about jumpers' stunning early show.

Jeswin Aldrin of Tamil Nadu leaps to a distance of 8.20M in the mens Jong jump of the First leg of the Indian Grand Prix.   -  Mahinsha S

Jeswin Aldrin was a confused kid a few years ago. He took to sport with the long jump at school and then moved to the high jump thinking he could do better in that. But the best he could fly was over 1.85m so he returned to the long jump five years ago, at 16, determined that he would work seriously in the event.

He is doing very impressively now. The 20-year-old from Mudalur – a village famed for its mouth-watering muscoth halwa – in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi District produced an 8.20m long jump at the Indian Grand Prix in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday that carried him to the top of the outdoor world list this year. He was just two centimetres away from making the cut for this July's World Championships in Oregon, US, and missed breaking M. Sreeshankar's National record (8.26) narrowly.

RELATED | Indian Grand Prix I: Jeswin, Ancy at their scorching best

“I was hoping to jump over 8m but 8.20m was certainly a surprise. I was hoping to do 8.20 in the Federation Cup but I got it in this competition,” Aldrin, who trains under two-time World championship triple jump silver medallist Yoandris Francis Betanzos of Cuba at the JSW's Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary, told Sportstar.

He had trained for nearly two and half years under Frenchman Antony Yaich at JSW Sports before coming under Betanzos and his previous best was 7.97m (February 2021) but on Sunday, he was in awesome form, sailing over 8m thrice with his best coming in the last jump.

“During that last jump, I wanted to break the national record, I missed it by 7 cms. I think I can break Sreeshankar's record this year. I need to perform well in international competitions, I will try to make the qualification standard for the Worlds in the Federation Cup [in April],” said Aldrin, a second year BA (History) student at Madras Christian College, Chennai, and the son of Johnson, a muscoth halwa businessman, and Esther Selvarani.

8.20m THE NEW NORMAL, SAYS SREESHANKAR

“I expected Jeswin to do well, around 8.10m because he finished with a good jump last year, he's a good jumper,” said Sreeshankar, who is getting ready for this week's Indoor Worlds in Belgrade. “8.20 is now the new normal....three athletes doing well this year, this is good for the long jump.”

The season has just started but the long and triple jumpers have come up with some of the biggest jumps the country has ever seen. Aldrin's Sunday special was the second best long jump ever by an Indian and Muhammed Anees Yahiya's 8.15m – while finishing behind Sreeshankar (8.17m) – at the recent Indian Open jumps meet in Thiruvananthapuram would have been the fourth-best by an Indian (the absence of a wind reading indicator at the meet denied him of that honour).

Similarly, triple jumper Eldhose Paul, Karthik Unnikrishnan and Abdulla Aboobacker have produced some very big jumps too.

While the stunning performances have brought joy all over, there are many who are shocked too.

The World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games are lined up between July and September this year...will they be consistent? Will they be able to sustain their form till then? After the huge rise, will there be a slide in performance later this year? It has happened before, will it happen again?

“Yes, that's what we call improvement in our athletes' performance,” said Chief National Coach Radhakrishnan Nair when asked whether he expected such performances from the jumpers so early in the season.

“Happy, a bit worried too. I know well about the athletes in the [national] camp as I am monitoring their training plan every week, They are in the beginning of specific preparation and these performances are very good in this phase. I can't say anything about the athletes training outside the camp.”

However, Aldrin was clear about what he has in mind this season.

“The goal is to be consistent and to do better,” he said.

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