The athlete will be India’s lone representative in the men’s Long Jump event at the Tokyo Olympics.

M Sreeshankar is one of the brightest young athletes that India has produced in recent years. He had set the country buzzing when he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with an 8.26 meters jump at the Federation Cup earlier this year. In doing so, he bettered his own national record, set in the year 2018.

However, the 22-year-old has had his fair share of disappointment and frustration over the years. Part of the Indian contingent for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, he pulled out prior to the event, after being diagnosed with appendicitis. M Sreeshankar had to go under the knife for an emergency appendix surgery and was placed on a liquid diet, which resulted in significant weight loss and an inability to walk properly.

But it didn’t deter him from his progression as he finally recovered to make his mark and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Family of athletes

Speaking to Khel Now during a media interaction, M Sreeshankar stated, “Coming from a family of athletes has given me a slight edge over my competitors. My dad used to be a triple jumper and he used to have great explosiveness and speed. But unfortunately, he couldn’t excel higher but he was the national champion consecutively for many, many years before he retired. My mom was an international 800m athlete.”

“I have a genetic advantage over others and coming from a sporting background my parents definitely know what it takes to bring a sportsperson in a right possible way, when it comes to training, diet, recovery, etc. So, that’s the great advantage I have ever had. Whenever I have a bad day, my parents try to explain to me what has gone wrong in a professional way. Many athletes don’t get that support.”

He added, “There are a lot of athletes who want to pursue their career in athletics, but their family support won’t be that high. In my case, it wasn’t that way. My parents wanted me to excel in sports as well as academics. They helped me have a balance between the two. That has been an important factor in my career.”

The athlete revealed that his father used to tell him stories about great players which helped him to be motivated. M Sreeshankar said, “When I was a small kid, my dad used to tell me stories about Carl Lewis and many great Indian athletes. My mom used to train with Shiny Wilson ma’am. She used to visit our home and tell me stories about her career. That has inspired me a lot. I hear about sports everywhere and that is a great advantage I have over others.”        

Ambitions for Tokyo

The long jumper also spoke about his preparations and ambitions for the upcoming Tokyo Games. He remarked, “My training is going pretty fine and smooth. I am also getting access to all the dietary resources since my mom works for the Food Corporation of India (FCI) essential service. So, she has permission to go to the store often. I have only one aim in mind, the big jump in Tokyo.”

“My realistic aim is to jump around 8.35-8.40 meters in Tokyo. Day by day, I am improving on my performance factors and parameters. Every time I am getting one step closer to my big target. I still have a good time to sharpen up my skills and the mental aspect will be a decisive factor.”

Indeed, the mental aspect will be a crucial factor in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. And M. Sreeshankar is confident ahead of his maiden participation in the Olympic Games. The boy from Palakkad will be hoping that he can deliver that dream leap to glory in Tokyo.

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