He is only 19 but has already jumped to glory in his maiden international meet in China early this year.

India’s young long jump sensation K. Premkumar, from Thanjavur, has been the talk of the athletics fraternity ever since he went past 7.90m a few months ago in Bangalore.

And his reputation climbed a rung when he secured a bronze at the Indoor Asian meet in China, India’s lone medal at the championship.

However, the medal came with just 7.62m. “That was because it was his first indoor experience. Competing with the seniors also added a bit of pressure,” says K. Nagarajan, his coach at St. Joseph’s Sports Academy.

A house for mother

For years, Prem’s life had been one of deep pain. He lost his father (Kumaravel) when he was just three.

It was a difficult journey but his mother (Uma Rani), who works as a cook in a Catholic Church, endured a tough life quietly so that her son could have a brighter one.

“I want to build a house for her. And, that is part of my dream,” says Premkumar, who is ranked fourth in the world juniors’ list.

After a strong performance in China, Premkumar jumped 7.52m for the bronze in the Asian junior championship in Colombo in June.

However, in the World juniors in Barcelona, in July, he finished ninth with 7.38m.

His best came at the National inter-zone junior championship in Pune last month.

New record

The ambitious youngster jumped 7.94m for the gold and a new record.

“I want to hit the eight-metre mark. And, I hope to do that at the Lucknow junior Nationals later this month,” says Premkumar.

“He is an athlete with potential and is cent per cent fit for jumps. Before coming to me, he was doing 6.70 to 6.80m. He is a natural jumper. So, I did not find it difficult to train him,” says Nagarajan.

“And, to further polish him, I only did slight modifications and gave him some simple advice,” he adds.

Biggest asset

Nagarajan says Premkumar’s biggest asset is his sharp observation. “He is a quick learner as well. He has a smooth run-up and an explosive jump.”

So where does Premkumar go from here.

“We are shaping him for the Rio Olympics. We will have to do something really special. It is not easy though but, we are on the move. We plan to provide him with more international exposure. And, we are confident that he will jell well with our plans.”

“We have only seen an upward graph. He has not suddenly risen to fame… it has been gradual. And, that’s good for any athlete,” he adds.

Nagarajan does not wish to load his ward with heavy thoughts and ideas.

“I am just going to allow him grow naturally. And, trust me, he will go places.

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