*Pictures credit IIS Media

New Delhi,  June 1 : Having won Gold with a jump of 8.18m at the International Jumping Meet in Kallithea, Greece earlier this month, Murali Sreeshankar on Thursday exuded confidence of improving his performance as busy season beckons him.

 “I didn't quite intend to push this hard, but of course, 8.20m was my target for this competition. I had competed in two meets prior as preparatory competitions to check where my body stood at that time. The competitive phase of the season has just started. So, I didn't want to push that hard, but of course, since 8.20m was my target for this competition, I wanted to hit my target,” the 24-year-old said in a virtual interaction.

He admitted that he struggled to hit the mark he had set for himself for the meet in Greece. “The wind played a major part on the day and this was the first time in Kallithea that we faced a headwind. Usually, we have a good tailwind and the day before when we had the warm-up, the conditions were quite ideal. I was not quite able to get into my rhythm, so I had to keep my approach more in front because I was lacking some speed also.”

“This was my second international competition of the season but my first competitive tournament. I have not been able to execute exactly as we planned. Usually during the competitions, my approach used to move back by around 30 or 40 centimeters, but this time around it came in front like 20-30 centimeters because I was lacking speed. I have to put in more effort getting into the rhythm, and getting the feeling right towards the boat. So, in the next couple of competitions, I think I'll be able to get into the rhythm better and go for big jumps as I ease my body and mind into a competitive mode,” The Kerala-born long - jumper said,

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Sreeshankar will compete in the Paris Diamond League that will be held on the 9th of June ,Talking about the hectic competitive season. he said “This season is pretty challenging because the Asian Games will be happening in the first week of October and the Asian Games qualifiers will take place in the first week of June. So, we have to plan the season very carefully so that we could maintain the form and sustain the performances till the Asian Games." 

"We have the World Championships in August, the Asian Championships in July, so we have to prioritize the kind of events which we have to focus on and give our best towards the main competition, which will be the World Championships.”

“Right now, the main focus for me will be to get the rhythm right on the approach, that's what I'm lacking a bit. We figured it out in the first competition which we had in Kallithea. So now we are trying to figure out how I can improve my last phase of the approach and the overall rhythm so that I will be able to execute the take-off properly for the jumps.” he said

Talking about his friend Jeswin Aldrin, he said “Jeswin had an incredible jump of 8.42m, which not only set the tone for Indian jumpers but also for all the jumpers in the world. This healthy competition will of course help all the other jumpers rise and improve our own performances. It's very important that during this period of time we get to compete with each other at international competitions to gain more international exposure with top athletes from around the world. We want to get prepared for the big stage events like the World Championships and Asian Games which are lined up for this year.”

The International Jumping Meet held in Greece was the Inspire Institute of Sport athlete’s first competitive meet after injury.

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