Manorama Sports Star 2022: Resilient Eldhose produces big leaps

Eldhose Paul,
Eldhose Paul is the lone Keralite to win an individual gold at the CWG.

Triple jumper Eldhose Paul, one of the six shortlisted nominees for the Manorama Sports Star Award 2022, made history when he won the Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold medal in 2022, the first by an Indian in the event's history.

That was pretty quick, a meteoric rise, indeed. From winning his first national triple jump title in 2021 to clinching the gold medal at the CWG in 2022, the humble boy from Kolenchery in Ernakulam has come a long way in a short span of time. Eldhose produced his best effort of 17.03m in his third attempt at the CWG 2022 in Birmingham, a jump that heralded a new dawn for Indian sports. It was only India's fifth individual athletic gold medal at the multi-sport international meet, and the 26-year-old Eldhose is the only Malayali featuring in that elite list that includes the likes of Milkha Singh and Neeraj Chopra.

A few weeks earlier, he had made history by becoming the first Indian triple jumper to qualify for the World Athletics Championships final in Oregon.

On a different track

In fact, Eldhose defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the top jumpers of the world. He had never won a medal in triple jump at school-level sports meets. He started undergoing systematic training in triple jump only when he joined Mar Athanasius College at Kothamangalam for a degree course. However, his first gold medal at a national event came in 2016 after he left the college without completing his course and joined the Indian Navy.

Eldhose started as a pole vaulter. Using a bamboo pole, he had even won medals at school and sub-district events. As the availability of fibre poles and vault pit was a far cry, he used to return empty-handed from district-level meets. Moreover, it was not easy for him to compete with the athletes from Mar Basil HSS and St George HSS, two sporting powerhouses in Kothamangalam, at district-level meets. It was then Eldhose, who was a student of MTM HSS Pambakuda, ditched pole vault and took up triple jump, believing that it was less competitive. He prepared a jumping pit at the school ground and started training with the help of YouTube videos. His efforts did not go waste as he finished third at the district-level school meet and qualified for the State School Sports Meet when he was in Class XI. Thereafter, Eldhose started pursuing triple jump seriously and was confident of doing well in the discipline.

A year to remember

The year 2022 has been the best one in Eldhose's career so far. He had been winning gold at the national level quite consistently in the run-up to CWG 2022. In March, he won gold at the Indian Grand Prix-2 in Thiruvananthapuram by producing a personal best of 16.95m. In April, he broke a 10-year-old meet mark when he leapt 16.99m to claim gold in the Federation Cup held in Kozhikode. Maintaining fine form throughout the season, he took on every challenge with total confidence and scripted history at the CWG 2022 in August. The prestigious Arjuna Award, which he won in 2022, will definitely spur him to do better in future.

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