Interstate athletics meet: Chitravel becomes third Indian to breach 17m mark in triple jump this year

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Triple jumper Praveen Chitravel’s coach Yoandri Betanzos has been putting in extra effort to improve his English skills to communicate better with his athlete, but the Tamil Nadu youngster has ensured the two-time World Championship medallist also enriched his local vocabulary. Apart from English, the Cuban has also picked a few “bad” words in Tamil that Chitravel believes is the only way to motivate him.

“I’ve taught him a few bad words in Tamil. Only that works when he needs to pull me up for my mistakes. Nothing else seems to work. So, he asked me to teach him a few words in my language that will strike well. He’s a very silent and happy person. He keeps encouraging me to do better each time,” says Chitravel.

Even though the “bad” motivational words were avoided during the triple jump finals at the Interstate Meet at Chennai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday, Chitravel was charged enough to produce an impressive 17.18m – the third-best leap by an Indian. Chitravel, who is only the fifth Indian to cross the 17m barrier, also achieved the World Championship qualification mark of 17.17m in the process.

Chitravel, who has been knocking on the 17m doors for a while, finally breached the mark to join the likes of Renjith Maheshwary (17.30m), Abdulla Aboobacker (17.19), Arpinder Singh (17.17m) and Karthik Unnikrishnan (17.10).

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Apart from national record holder Maheshwary and 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Arpinder, the other members of the 17m club have joined just this year.

“I have always been close to the mark but missed it due to some reason or the other. This time, everything fell in place and I am really pleased I could breach the 17m mark,” the JSW athlete said.

Chitravel hasn’t visited home in the last eight months to ensure that his training routine is not disrupted. After Tuesday’s victory, he gave his mother Prema a quick call to update her with the results. But she was already following the proceedings on live streaming.

“I spoke to my mother. She cried seeing my jump live. She told me, ‘It’s your home ground, you know what to do, I don’t need to tell you what to do.’ It’s been 7-8 months since I went home. I am used to being away from home. I come from a sports family so they know the drill,” the 2018 Youth Olympics bronze medallist said.

Valuable advice

Following the competition from much closer quarters was someone who not only knows the sport inside out but also owns the triple jump national mark set in 2016. Kerala’s Maheshwary has taken leave to travel to Chennai to witness the finals.

“I think any of these youngsters (Aboobacker, Chitravel, Eldhose Paul, Karthik) are capable of breaking my record. I came here expecting to see someone rewrite it. It is not good for the sport that a record stays in someone’s name for a long time,” Maheshwary said.

He closely observed Chitravel’s jumps and had some tips for him as well. “He seemed to be in a rush to land after taking off from the board. He should take it a little easy and try to get more airtime and he will definitely get better distances,” says the national mark holder.

The triple jump standards have improved immensely in the country in recent times with Chitravel being the third to breach the 17m mark this year itself. The big Tamil cinema fan hasn’t decided yet how to celebrate this recent accomplishment. The stylish youngster, who was once timid, now handles the media with great confidence and loves to pepper his responses with the latest movie dialogues. For a question on his journey ahead, he quickly repeated a dialogue from Kamal Haasan’s latest release Vikram.

“I’ve had a lot of doubts throughout my life. Like Kamal Haasan’s dialogue in Vikram, pathukalam da (we’ll see as it comes),” he says.

Chitravel, who earlier trained with coach Antony Yaich, is grateful for the knowledge the Frenchman imparted during his stint and also shares a close bond with Yaich’s family. “I had my birthday recently. I got so many calls from France. They are like my family now,” he said.

While Yaich worked on adding pace to his run-up, Betanzos mostly works on his explosiveness. “Both (Betanzos and Yaich) are very similar. Differences are in training. Yaich focuses on speed and power but Yoandri focuses on explosive abilities and jumps specifically. He works on technique consistently,” Chitravel explained.

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