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A 19-year-old, of Kerala broke the national record in long with 8.20m jump. He won the gold at the National Open Athletics Championship on Thursday.

The earlier national record was in the name of Ankit Sharma made in Almaty in 2016. Shreekant Murali in his fifth attempt jumped a record-breaking 8.20m. His previous best was 7.99m.

He had an appendix that led to a surgery and spent three days in an intensive care unit. Due to this, he couldn’t participate in Commonwealth games. He participated in the AS

Robert Bobby George who coached his wife Anju to India’s first World Championship medal in the year 2003. Robert praised him and said Shreeshankar Murali is a World class athlete.

“His effort today would have got us a silver medal at the Asian Games but it’s unfortunate that he had health issues. But he’s very young and very talented. The amount of progress he has made this year despite the setbacks is commendable. He is what I call ‘champion material’,” said Robert.

Shreeshankar Murali’s father was also an athlete. He was a triple jumper and shreeshankar’s mother Bijimol was an 800m runner. His father coached and guided him.

Robert advised him to ditch the hang technique and move to more complex hitch-hike technique. It is the technique where the jumper completes a cycle-kick motion while airborne.

“Sreeshankar was a bit hesitant. But this is the technique that most world-class jumpers use. I told him that if he practices hard, he can pick it up in three months. That is what has happened and he has done extremely well in the first year of switching to a new technique” he said.

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“He also needs to focus on his studies to have secure future,” said Shreeshankar Murali’s father

Shreeshanakar’s father said that his athlete friends are jobless. He wants his son to study and secure a future.

Many of my friends who were in athletics with me are jobless now. He has to focus on studies as well to ensure a secure future. This is how it works in India,”

Contrary to this Robert adviced him to drop out from an engineering.

“I am an engineer myself and know how rigorous the course is. I spoke to Sreeshankar a few times about dropping out from engineering and am happy that he has taken my advice seriously. I am not his mentor but just a sports enthusiast and friend. If he gets ample foreign exposure, he will be a serious candidate for a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games,” said Roberts.

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