There is a video clipping of triple jump’s world record holder Jonathan Edwards in P. Pranav’s mobile. The young Kerala athlete looks at it frequently, almost trying to memorise the jump sequence.
“I watch it before every round of a championship, it inspires me,” said the 17-year-old from hilly Idukki. “He is my hero too.”
The other day, Pranav powered past the under-18 National record of Maharashtra’s Dhiraj Mishra at the South Zone junior athletics championship in Kochi. His best, 15.45m, was nine centimetres better than the record.
“My goal is to do something like 15.80 to 16 metres this year,” said 12th standard student of Kothamangalam’s Mar Basil School.
Four years ago, Pranav was a good sprinter and high jumper at Nedumkandom’s SNV School. He had even won a high jump medal at the State junior championship with the scissors style.
“But we didn’t have a foam pit in our school, so I Gave up high jump in the ninth standard,” said Pranav, the son of a farmer.
He took up triple jump and a little later won the bronze at the State Schools Championship in Palakkad. He jumped to gold the next year at Kottayam and last year, topped it by breaking a 10-year-old record at Chalakudy.
“If Pranav continues like this, he can win an Asian medal,” said T.P. Ouseph, who saw the youngster’s potential and brought him to the Kothamangalam Athletics Academy where he has been training him for the last two years. “He is capable of doing 17 plus.”
Kerala’s M. Renjith, the first Indian to cross 17m and the National record holder with 17.04m, is the current Asian men’s champion in triple jump.
Made for the event
Pranav has the ideal triple jumper’s body, said Ouseph. “He has a lean body with sufficient muscle fibre, like Carl Lewis and Mike Powell. He is 5’11” and there is scope to put on one or two inches. That’s also a good thing.”
But there is much tinkering to be done to straighten out to his technique in the hop, step and jump event.
“He is very talented but what he lacks is flow in his run-up,” said Ouseph, who coached Anju George, the World long jump bronze medallist, in her early years.
“The last phase of Pranav’s jump – the long jump phase – has a lot of mistakes. After the ‘step’ landing, he should keep his trunk erect and balance himself for the final landing. He has got a problem there.”
Explaining further, Ouseph said, “it’s as if he is taking the whole pit to land. He is spreading out, throwing out various segments of his body, like a fisherman casting his net. There is also a problem with the mid-flight phase.
“The good thing is, Pranav is raw and he is young.”
Ouseph frequently shows the youngster tapes of former world champion Jonathan Edwards to motivate him.
“Jonathan almost looks as if he is on wheels, as if he is a smooth machine, during his jumps,” said Ouseph.
Pranav is longing to do a similar act.