Mentor Murali guides jumps squad to success

Athletics

During the high jump final, Murali also kept a close watch on Tejaswin’s approach before take-off and the mid-mark during the run-up.

Shared News: August 11, 2022 11:43:58 am
CWG high jump bronze medallist Tejaswin with coach Sivasankaran Murali.

Commonwealth Games silver medallist long jumper Sreeshankar’s coach and father Sivasankaran Murali isn’t someone who likes to dwell on the past. Despite being publicly sacked by the Athletics Federation of India after his son’s poor show at the Tokyo Olympics, he holds no grudges.

Just ahead of the CWG in Birmingham, the Indians were left in a lurch after Russian jumps coach Dennis Kapustin was denied a visa by UK authorities amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. But Murali, whose name was on the personal coaches’ list, stepped up and offered to guide the young jump contingent which returned with India’s best medal haul at the Games.

Tejaswin Shankar, who bagged India’s first CWG high jump medal, gave coach Murali along warm hug during his victory lap. It was his way of thanking his friend Sreeshankar’s father. More than his coaching, young Shankar was impressed by the former triple jumper’s work ethic and enthusiasm.

“When I met him at Birmingham, the first thing he told me was: ‘I don’t know much about high jump but I will be the first one to come to the stadium and last one to leave during your competitions’. That’s exactly what he did throughout for all the jumpers,” says Tejaswin.

That was all the youngster needed. His Kansas State University coach Cliff Rovelto was following his jumps from a different continent. “It makes a huge difference to have a familiar face in the crowd. During competitions, your heart goes into overdrive and you need someone to give you some feedback. His presence made a huge difference for me,” admits the bronze medallist.

During the high jump final, Murali also kept a close watch on Tejaswin’s approach before take-off and the mid-mark during the run-up. He had to ensure Tejaswin cranked up the speed just before take-off to get maximum purchase. “I mark my run up midpoint with a tape but during the actual jump, you have to do the calculation in your mind. You can’t keep your eye on the marking. He was there to tell me I was doing it right,” explained Tejaswin.

Coach Murali obviously had a bigger role to play in triple jump, a sport he knows like the back of his hand. He was present at all of the warm-ups, workouts and competitions.

One-two finishers Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker already share a good bond with Murali who meets them regularly on the domestic circuit. “He took care of the whole jumps squad there. We could reach out to him for anything at any time. He definitely played a big role in me performing well and winning the medal there,” says Tejaswin.

As far as the sacking and reinstatement is concerned, Murali feels all is well that ends well.” The federation is now supporting us a lot. Those things are in the past now,” he had said before leaving for Birmingham.