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From Mudalur to World's elite: Jeswin Aldrin takes the big leap

Hailing from a remote coastal village in Tamil Nadu famous for muscoth halwa and churches, Jeswin Aldrin is ready to take the big leap at the 2023 Athletics World Championships.

From Mudalur to Worlds elite: Jeswin Aldrin takes the big leap

Jeswin Aldrin


Pritish Raj

Updated: 24 Aug 2023 5:23 PM GMT

Mudalur, Tamil Nadu: Mudalur is a quiet coastal village with a total population of around 4,500 people. Till recently, it was mostly known for its churches and the sweet confectionery muscoth halwa.

While the halwa has gone to many countries, the village was put on the global sports map in 2022 when a shy-looking 20-year-old Jeswin Aldrin competed in the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, USA.

Although he failed to qualify for the final stage, he showed signs that his final landing point would be miles from where he began.

"I was convinced from the early days that he is going to reach the top level," Jeswin's uncle Simon told The Bridge.

Discipline, business, and muscoth halwa

Mudalur, one of the earlier Christian villages in Tamil Nadu, is still known for its staunchly religious people. Belonging to the Pentecostal sect of Christianity, Jeswin's childhood, like most others around him, was in a disciplined environment.

"Jeswin grew up without a television. Sports was not forbidden, but not something that was encouraged," Simon said.

Despite all the discipline, Jeswin would sneak out here and there to fulfill his desire to watch TV, mostly when he would be away for competitions.

In school, Jeswin was nicknamed 'Halwa' for his family ties with the recipe of the famous muscoth halwa. A sweet made of coconut milk and cashew nut, Jeswin's great-grandfather Joseph Abraham learned the recipe in Sri Lanka and it has been a part of their lives since then.

Mudalur's famous Muscoth Halwa- the shop belongs to the family of Jeswin Aldrin. (Special Arrangement.)

"Had Jeswin not shown interest in Athletics, he would have joined us in the business probably," Simon giggled. Currently, Johnson Issac (Jeswin's father) handles the preparation part of the halwa while Simon looks after sales and marketing.

"We have gone global now and we are setting up in London soon. Before Jeswin went global, our halwa was what our village was known for," Simon chuckled.

Simon played a big part in convincing the orthodox Issac family to let Jeswin make a career in sports. "I had many arguments to be honest, but they eventually understood," Simon said.

"Jeswin started as a high jumper and was part of other teams such as kho-kho and volleyball. His school teacher asked him to take up the long jump," Simon added further.

The high jump's loss was the long jump's gain as Jeswin displayed good early signs with his progression and started winning medals at the junior level.

"He was very confident and hardworking. He used to jump all day long on the school grounds. He doesn't like losing," Simon explained. While it was crazy for a 16-year-old kid to practice all day, Jeswin did that to reach where he is today.

The break at Inspire Institue of Sports

Former track and field coach of JSW's Inspire Institute of Sports, Frenchman Antony Yaich spotted Jeswin in 2019 at Junior Nationals, where he finished third.

When asked why he chose Jeswin despite finishing third, Antony told Simon," I have seen this kid jump and I believe he can be a top-level athlete in the world."

Jeswin's uncle Simon gives a lot of credit to Antony. "It was tough for my family to let go of their beloved child at the age of 17. But Antony was good at convincing. He asked them to visit the campus once and see the facilities," said Simon.

Two people who believed in Jeswin- Coach Antony Yaich (left) and uncle Simon Issac (right). (SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT)

The Issac family visited the Bellary campus of Inspire Institute of Sport and were astounded by the facilities on display; from world-class tracks to training equipment, it was pitch-perfect.

"My brother was shocked to see such a brilliant setup just for sports and he was immediately convinced," said Simon.

Moving to Bellary did a world of good to Jeswin, who changed his technique to the hitch-hike technique — where the jumper completes a cyclic-kick motion while airborne — instead of the hang technique.

Currently training under Cuban coach Yoandri Betanzos, Jeswin has jumped past 8m multiple times in the past two years and held the world lead of 2023 with a jump of 8.42m till the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

Silent killer who doesn't like to lose

Jeswin has been perceived as a silent person who likes to go about his business without much noise.

"He is a silent boy. He keeps himself to the people he is comfortable with and doesn't speak much. During competition also he is silent and doesn't celebrate much. I think his drive comes from his calmness. He is very competitive and never likes to lose," Simon said.

While another Indian long jumper, Murali Sreeshankar is known for his animated celebrations, Jeswin is like the silent assassin on the track. Like the cricket duo of Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, each expressing their geniuses in different ways.

"The long jump is like a way of expression for him, he is happiest when on the track. I would want him to keep doing what he is doing," Simon signed off.

From a remote village in Tamil Nadu to becoming a national record holder and now in the top 12 of the world, Jeswin has had one heck of a journey till now, and well, it has just started.

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