Confined to home, Sreeshankar steps up Olympic preparation

Long jumper M Sreeshankar.

International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a blessing in disguise for young long jumper M Sreeshankar.

The IOC's decision has given the 22-year-old national record holder, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in March, ample time to fine-tune his skills although the pandemic has denied him the opportunity to take part in major competitions leading up to the quadrennial event.

One of India's biggest medal prospects, the youngster is currently getting battle-ready for the Games scheduled to open on July 23. A final year BSc student of Government Victoria College, Palakkad, Sreeshankar talks about his life in the lockdown and how he fine-tunes his act for Tokyo. 

"Diet plays a major role in an athletes' build-up in the training and preparation. My breakfast menu includes three boiled eggs, one steamed banana, a bowl of corn flakes, almonds, raisins, idli and sambar. I follow a strict diet and workout regime. The ultimate goal is to win an Olympic medal. I know it is not going to be easy. I hope I can do it by giving my best.

Everyday I train for four hours at the Medical College ground in Palakkad under the supervision of my father and coach S Murali. I do  strength training exercises at home in the morning. After that we will go to the ground in our car and return in the evening. 

Definitely, the uncertainties of the Tokyo 2020 Games have put new hurdles in the path of athletes. But I'm confident that the Olympics will be held as scheduled as the organisers have confirmed that the event will not be postponed again. I will try to do my best even if it is held behind closed doors. 

The extended lockdown and the cancellation of competitions have definitely hampered my preparation and deprived myself of chances to compete with international jumpers. The only major event I could attend was the Federation Cup in Patiala where I broke my own national record with an 8.26m leap and qualified for the Olympics.

I decided to skip the national camp in Patiala to be on the safe side. I'm taking all the precautions to keep coronavirus at bay. We all make it a point to wear masks even while at home and avoid stepping out unnecessarily. We keep a safe distance even while having food at home. 

The cancellation and postponement of events due to the global pandemic has affected athletes across the globe in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I had been hoping to be part of the World Junior Athletics Championships last July. The cancellation of the event was a body blow to my Olympic preparations. Also, many athletes who were to be featured in the meet have now crossed the age limit and thereby have become ineligible to compete. Many are also struggling to maintain their fitness levels due to lack of facilities and proper training."

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