| New Delhi |
Published: October 18, 2018 1:48:50 am
It’s been almost a day since Praveen Chitravel walked to the podium to receive his triple jump bronze medal at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, but he still occasionally pinches himself. For Chitravel, whose father works as a watchman in the same school he once studied, winning a medal at one of the world’s biggest stage is like a dream come true. The tall and lean jumper bagged the medal with a combined distance of 31.52m (Stage one: 15.84 and Stage 2: 15.68m). Cuba’s Alejandro Diaz won gold with 34.18m (17.14 +17.04m), while Nigeria’s Emmeanuel Oristsemetiwa took home silver with a distance of 31.85m (16.34+15.51m)
“I really have no words to express how I felt the moment the medal was put around my neck. It’s not everyday that you win an Olympic medal. It will really take time for this to sink in,” an overjoyed Chitravel told The Indian Express. Chitravel, who hails from Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, has been training under Sports Development Authority coach Indira Suresh since he was an 8-year-old.
The youngster gets emotional and sings a litany of praises for his coach. “She is everything for me. The reason I am good in athletics, the reason I came this far and the reason I have an Olympic medal around my neck…it’s all because of her. She has bought me shoes when I needed them from her own money. She makes sure I have everything required for my training and diet.”
About four years back, Chitravel suffered from a knee injury that threatened to put an end to this athletics career even before it began. The sports hostel where he was residing were not keen on continuing with him. But Suresh stood by him.
“I was going to be thrown out of the hostel but madam (coach) intervened. She told them that I was a talented athlete and fought for me. She even lodged me at her house for a month and took care of all my needs. She helped with my recovery and training. And at the very first competition after the recovery, I bagged a gold,” Chitravel narrates.
The first year BA student of Alva college, Mangalore earned a national camp call in June after a good show at the Federation Cup in Patiala. But he spent only a few months at the Trivandrum SAI centre as national coach Bedros Bedrosian got busy with the Asian Games duty. Before the Youth Games, he had been training in Tirunelveli about 75 kms from Nagercoil where Suresh is posted. “The nearest synthetic track is more than 1 hour away. Before competitions, we travel thrice a week to Tirunelveli for practice,” said Suresh, a former national-level jumper.
“I wasn’t a great athlete to be honest, but I always wanted to produce one. Chitravel is not only talented, but he’s a good person too. Always ready to help. He learnt a new methods at the camp and he’s helping the kids here and telling them about it,” Suresh added.
Back home in Thanjavur, the family is on cloud nine over Chitravel’s triumph. They will be hoping this medal ushers in a new dawn for them. It was because of Chitravel’s exploits in school-level events that his father was offered a job as a guard in the same institute he studied. His mother works as a labourer at the village farm.
“I called them, they were so happy. They were crying and laughing. It got too emotional. My father was little grumpy though. He said ‘this medal is not enough I need a senior Olympic medal. Now what can I do? (he bursts out in laughter).”
Coach Suresh probably has the answer.
“He needs to work hard and improve his technique. He definitely has the potential to bring in a big haul. We believed he would come home with a medal from Argentina, and he did. He needs to aim for the senior Olympics now.”
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