Just a couple of days ago, high jumper Sreenith Mohan had been a very disappointed boy.
“I could not even go above 1.90m in my trial jumps, I was even worried I would lose the State championship,” said the 18-year-old, Kerala’s best high jumper who rose to a personal best 2.13m late last year.
On Saturday, the youngster from the Kerala Cricket Association’s Mission Gold athletics scheme surprised even himself by soaring to a new high, 2.16m which broke the Kerala men’s record and which was just one centimetre lower than the under-20 national mark, at the 57th State senior athletics championship at the Maharaja’s Stadium.
And Kerala cricket, which hit a new high in the recent National 50-over and T20 championships, had another reason to celebrate…this time, on an athletics track.
The worn-out high jump pit at the Maharaja’s Stadium where Sreenith frequently trains, had been a big worry for the youngster and KCA Secretary T.C. Mathew said the association would purchase a new foam bed for its one-year-old academy.
Mathew also offered a token cash award to Sreenith and said he would be richly rewarded at the KCA’s forthcoming awards function.
Meanwhile, T.P. Ouseph, former national jumps coach and the chief coach at the Mission Gold academy, said Sreenith could go up to 2.18m by the end of this season.
“I expected him to touch only 2.14m today but he went higher. But I don’t want to put pressure on him, I expect him to only cross 2.18m this year,” said Ouseph, who trained former World Championship long jump medallist Anju George and former Asian champion high jumper Bobby Aloysius during their early years.
KCA’s new plan
The Mission Gold academy currently has only seven athletes, including four who were taken in a few days ago and the KCA Secretary is keen to bring in more talent under the scheme.
But since many bright youngsters were not keen to leave their base in other districts, Mathew said that the KCA has a new plan for such athletes: they could train at their own base under their own coaches but can attend specialised training camps organised by the cricket association and represent the Mission Gold scheme in competitions.
He has also promised to solve the athletes’ travel problems at the academy. Currently, they have to travel from their hostel to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here and then to their schools.
This had been a reason for athletes from other centres like Kothamangalam — where they train, stay and study at one place — being reluctant to join the KCA academy.