Long jumper Murali Sreeshankar was eager to hit the Olympic qualification mark of 8.22m at the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala in March, but returned home disappointed after two legs of the event were postponed due to COVID-19.
As the nation went into a two-month lockdown, the 21-year old was frustrated by the vagary of isolation at his home in Palakkad.
“As athletes we are always used to going out and compete. And all of a sudden you are sitting between four walls, hoping things will get better. I had to look for new ways to keep myself fit,” Sreeshankar told Sportstar .
The lockdown, however, turned out to be a blessing for the national champion once he started focusing on strength and mobility. Under the watchful eye of his father and coach M. Murali, he went through rigorous weight training at his home gym. Sreeshankar could feel a spring in his step when he returned to training at a local medical college near his home last month.
“During this lockdown period, I got a chance to do a lot of things which I didn’t get to do before. I have been doing a lot of strength, core and mobility training. I could clearly see the results when I go to train at the track. I feel very positive and it is definitely going to have an impact on my performances in the coming season,” Sreeshankar, who holds the national record of 8.20m, said.
With the Olympic qualification set to restart from December, Sreeshankar had to tweak his regime to hit the top gear.
“The intensity in training is high. The initial plan was to hit peak fitness by July and August, but now the target to peak by September, October and November before the Olympic qualification begins. We are focusing in state and university championships starting from September and few more tournaments abroad next year,” he said.
Sreeshankar, who is pursuing an under-graduate course (B.Sc (Mathematics)), feels there is some sense of normalcy restored since the lockdown restrictions were eased in Kerala.
“My schedule is back to hectic as I am attending my classes online in the day and training in the evening. Once we wrap up the training at the track, I come home and focus the workouts for the day,” he said.
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