J. Surendhar diligently followed a practice schedule for 12 years and is today an athletic force to reckon with. Liffy Thomas tracks his run to glory

J. Surendhar was 10 when his parents found a full-time athletics coach for him. The first thing the coach did was hand out a practice schedule to the boy. Twelve years on, Surendhar still sticks to it. The 22-year-old trains for two hours in the morning, and another two in the evening, at the University Grounds, Chetpet.

Besides that, he follows a strict diet and avoids hanging out late with friends and hits the bed by 10 p.m. And he will not miss the Sunday session with coach M.V. Rajasekhar for all the tea in china. Together with the coach, he will watch videos of Olympic winning track and field with a view to improving his performance.

As a result of an uncompromising commitment to excellence, Surendhar has become an athletic force to reckon with. He has created records in long jump, 110m hurdles, sprint and triple jump. His best performances include a fourth place in the semi-finals at the 110m hurdles at the 2011 World University Games held in China; creating a new national record in 110m hurdles (13.92 sec) at the 2010 Junior Open Nationals held in Bangalore; winning the gold in 110m hurdles at the National Games 2011 in Ranchi; and winning the gold in 110m hurdles three times on the trot at the All-India Inter University Athletics Championship which leaves him just one short of achieving his coach’s record.

“Surendhar is yet to reach his peak. He has to better his record and we have just three years for that,” says Rajasekhar. Given that he has to achieve this alongside his educational pursuits, the task is not an easy one. At present, Surendhar is pursuing an undergraduate degree in history at Loyola College.

For now, the six-foot tall athlete has set his sights on the World University Games which starts in July in Russia. Every country that participates in the championship is expected to field its best athletes. Rajasekhar is encouraging his protégé to improve his “hurdle movement strength”.

Making it to the winners’ podium is important, but Surendhar keeps a larger goal in sight – “I have to better my own record. That is my only ambition in the sport.”

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