"Even if you're anxious, pretend you are confident," Anju Bobby George's Olympics tip to Sreeshankar
India's veteran athlete Anju Bobby George has a word of advice for long jumper Murali Sreshankar who could emerge as a dark horse at the Tokyo Olympics.
Long jumper Murali Sreeshankar is being touted as one of the dark horses at the Tokyo Olympics. The athletics fraternity would be closely following the exploits of the 22-year-old national record holder from Kerala, who would be shouldering big hopes for the country at the Games.
But, before he could set his feet in Tokyo, one of India's most venerated athletes, Anju Bobby George, has a message for the youngster. In a conversation with Sportstar, George, the only India to have won an athletics medal at the World Championship (2003), said, "Even if you're anxious during the event, pretend that your confidence is up and everything is okay with you. In fact, all the athletes will pretend. Even your coach will be watched closely, so he should also pretend that everything is good."
Sreeshankar struggled for the last couple of years to meet the Olympic qualification standard of 8.20m. However, on March 21, Sreeshankar had done the unthinkable. He secured the Olympics berth by a jaw-dropping jump of 8.26m in Patiala.
Anju further told the publishers, "There may be jumpers who have done 8.50 or 8.60m. So you will have to pretend you are a good jumper too. Your performance will all depend on how you behave that day."
The first and only time an Indian long jumper came close to a medal at the Olympics was when George jumped 6.83m in women's long jump and finished fifth at Athens in 2004 — a national record that still stands.
Sreeshankar's effort of 8.26m is currently the eleventh-best in the world this season. The list is presently led by Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece with a best of 8.60m this season, while the American JuVaughn Harrison is second with a jump of 8.44.The third place in the world for the 2021 season is jointly held by the American Jeff Henderson and the Cuban Maykel Masso with 8.39m.