Renjith’s record is Arpinder's goal

Kerala triple jumper Renjith Maheswary produced the 17.30m biggie in Bengaluru that made him the fourth best jumper in the world last year. But Arpinder Singh, whose record Renjith broke, was not rattled that day.

Arpinder Singh... “[Renjith] just gave me a new target to achieve.”   -  H. S. Manjunath

It was a jump that shocked the world. What is he taking, asked many as Kerala triple jumper Renjith Maheswary produced the 17.30m biggie in Bengaluru that made him the fourth best jumper in the world last year and fetched him a ticket to the Rio Olympics.

But Arpinder Singh, whose record Renjith broke, was not rattled that day. “No, I wasn’t shocked. Anyone can do that. He just gave a new target for me to achieve. Otherwise, there is no fun in this game,” said Arpinder in a chat with Sportstar from Delhi on Thursday just before boarding a flight to Bhubaneswar for next week’s Asian Athletics Championships.

Arpinder, like Renjith, is a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, having won it at the last edition in Glasgow in 2014, the year he also set the national record of 17.17m in Lucknow. And now, after lying low the last two years and missing the 2015 Asians and Rio, the 24-year-old Punjab athlete is keen to get back to be among the medals. “I’m almost 85 per cent close to my best. I hope to do well at the Asians and qualify for the Worlds,” said the ONGC officer.

He produced an impressive 16.75m at the recent Federation Cup, narrowly missing the 16.80m entry standard for the Worlds. He had hoped to get the London ticket at the recent G. Kosanov memorial meet in Almaty (Kazakhstan), but heavy rain upset his day. “He is in good form, ready for Bhubaneswar,” said his coach Bibu Mathew.

With the current Asian leader Bin Dong, the Rio Olympics bronze medallist, missing from China’s entry list for the Asians, Zhu Yaming who recently jumped a personal best 17.17m will the favourite for the gold at Bhubaneswar.

MASSIVE JUMP FOR NAYANA

Nayana James’ sudden rise has raised a lot of eyebrows too. The Kerala long jumper improved her personal best by nearly 50 cms at the Federation Cup which surprised Bobby Aloysius, the former Asian high jump champion who coached Nayana for three years till late last year. “Yes, I was shocked with Nayana’s 6.55m at Patiala. I expected her to do something in 6.20 range this year and 6.50 in probably two or three years,” said Bobby.

“I don’t think she can do something like 6.70m in future because her basic speed is very low. That is why I thought that she had a brighter future in heptathlon.”

But Nayana feels that working with her new coach Ajith Kumar suits her well. “I feel an overall improvement, both my speed and conversion rates have improved,” she said.

Ajith said that he had been working specifically on her speed. “Her performances may have shocked everybody but not me. I am basically a sprints coach, so my workouts are all speed-oriented, it has probably helped Nayana sustain her speed and steady her jumps,” said Ajith.

“We are aiming for something between 6.65 to 6.75m (the entry standard for the Worlds). And she has jumped 6.63m while training at our Alva’s College ground (near Mangalore). A good long jump show will bring a 100m hurdles medal too, if all goes well.”