The second wave of Covid in India has disrupted the plan of national long jumper record holder Murali Sreeshankar to compete in Europe as part of preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games, and he is now planning afresh to tour there. “I had planned to compete in two-three quality competitions in Europe before the Olympics in July-August. But due to the raging pandemic in India I don’t see any chance of travelling to Europe this month. I will try to work out a plan to compete in quality competitions next month in Europe now,” Sreeshankar told IANS from Palakkad.
Sreeshankar, the 22-year-old Kerala, is, however, hopeful of getting some international exposure next month.
“My sponsors are working on that. In case I’m not able to travel to Europe in June, then the only option I would have is to compete in the National Inter-State Championships in June in Bengaluru,” he said.
Despite frequent lockdowns in his area, Sreeshankar is able to train outdoors.
“It’s challenging situation for all the top athletes. But my plan is to maintain my fitness and attain peak at the right time. My event is scheduled to start on August 2 in Tokyo. So, I want to be in good health to perform well on that particular day,” he pointed out.
Sreeshankar improved his own national record to 8.26 metres in March at the Federation Cup in Patiala. The performance was better than the Olympic qualification mark of 8.22m. His previous national record of 8.20m was recorded during 2018 National Open Championships in Bhubaneswar.
After qualifying for the Olympics in March, Sreeshankar planned to compete in Europe to repeat his performance of 8.26m.
“My training is going on expected lines. But I wanted to record good jumps in a competitive field to polish my skills for the Olympics. I’ve improved my take-off and landing in training. But I want to check whether I’m able to repeat in competition under pressure,” he said.
Last week Sreeshankar got the first dose of Covid-19 vaccines in Palakkad. “It was a big relief for me and my family,” he said.