With his performance graph fluctuating wildly over the last few years, triple jumper Praveen Chithravel has often left athletics aficionados confused. He could do 17m one day and fall to 15 the next.
The youngster promised much with his performances at home but often failed to deliver on the international stage.
Now, after opening his season with an impressive 16.98m for the Indoor Asians silver in Kazakhstan last week, Chithravel feels this could be a very memorable year.
“The goal is to do more than 17.40m this year. I need to jump something like 17.40 or 17.50m. That sort of process is going on, and it’s going good,” said Chithravel in a chat with Sportstar from his training base at Bellary’s JSW Inspire Institute of Sport, on Thursday.
The 21-year-old will have plenty of opportunities for the big jumps, for this year is packed with the Asian Championships (July, Thailand), Worlds (Hungary, August) and Asian Games (September, China).
But a lot could happen before that.
“Now we have four of five jumpers over 17m, they are pushing me. There’s a good chance that one of us could break the national record on March 2 itself (at their domestic season-opening Jumps Indian Open in Bellary),” said the triple jumper from Thanjavur, who is third in the country’s all-time list (17.18m, Chennai, 2022).
Many eyebrows were raised when Ranjith Maheswary set that national record, a stunning 17.30m in July 2016, a month before his Rio Olympics flop show (16.13). But now, India has come a long way in triple jump, with Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker picking gold and silver at the last Commonwealth Games, with Chithravel missing the bronze by just 4 cms.
Chithravel was surprised that he almost touched 17m at the Indoor Asians.
“I was not prepared for this competition, we are preparing for the Asians, Worlds and Asiad.
We had to give our entry suddenly, just 20 days before the meet. And we (his coach, Cuba’s two-time Worlds silver medallist Yoandri Betanzos) had to change the training schedule all of a sudden. There were a lot of complications in the first two weeks, but then when you think too much there could be problems, so I thought, ‘let’s just go and do it’,” said Chithravel.
“This year has been sort of telling me, ‘you can do it’.”
He had a ‘no mark’ at the last Asian final (Doha 2019) with a hamstring injury. “I was the only Indian triple jumper to qualify for the last Asians...now the Asians are coming back, so I hope to do some good things,” he said.
That could steady his graph too.
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