Triple jumper Praveen eyes Youth Olympics berth after gold in state meet

Praveen is getting ready to participate in the Youth Olympics Asia qualification meet which begins in Bangkok on July 4.

Tamil Nadu triple jumper C. Praveen with his coach Indira Suresh. Photo: Special Arrangement   -  Special Arrangement

With his dad Chithravel and uncle fine kabaddi players in Thanjavur, it did not take long for young C. Praveen to get hooked to the sport.

Chithravel also used to take Praveen frequently to the district athletics meet where the youngster developed a special liking towards long jump.

Praveen attended the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) Sports Hostel trials and one day found himself in Chennai where he began specialising in the long and triple jumps under coach Indira Suresh.

On Saturday, the 17-year-old produced an impressive 16.22m triple jump as he won gold in the Tamil Nadu State senior championship in Tirunelveli.

Unique Feat

That made Praveen world’s seventh best jumper in the under-18 category.

“Everything went perfectly in my final jump,” Praveen, who has now moved to Nagercoil after his SDAT coach Indira was transferred there, told Sportstar on Monday.

He bettered his personal best - 15.66m at the recently concluded Junior Federation Cup in Coimbatore which helped him qualify for next month’s under-20 Worlds in Finland, with his third jump (15.67m) and also a (15.99m) jump before the big one.

That saw him getting a call to join the national camp in Thiruvananthapuram and the youngster is expected to reach Kerala on Tuesday.

“He has got good speed, good legs and he is very aggressive in his jumps. I know what he is capable of, I saw him in Coimbatore. He is very good,” said Romanian Bedros Bedrosian, the long and triple jumps national coach.

Surprisingly, Praveen was not included in the team for the Junior Asians which ended in Japan on Sunday. He would have given a strong fight to Tamil Nadu’s K. Kamalraj who won gold with a jump of 15.75m.

“We don’t know how he missed the Junior Asians but he will be surely going to the under-20 Worlds if he has qualified (entry standard 15.60m),” said Robert Bobby George, a junior national selector who had helped his long jumper wife Anju George to the 2003 Worlds bronze.

So, how did Praveen manage the big one? “My bounding was not proper earlier. I had a lot of power training and beach training to open up my bound phase,” explained Praveen. “Also, some upper body correction which improved my jumps.”

Indira also coaches V. Subha, the women’s 4x400m relay silver medallist at the Junior Asians, and with conditions at Nagercoil not ideal, they travel to Tirunelveli’s Anna Stadium, a two-hour bus ride, thrice a week to practice on a synthetic track.

Praveen is also getting ready to participate in the Youth Olympics Asia qualification meet which begins in Bangkok on July 4. “My goal is to do 16.50m this year,” he signed off.