"He jumps with me": Triple jumper Chithravel credits his Asian Indoor Athletics medal to coach Betanzos
Yoandri Betanzos, a double World Championships silver medallist, retired from the sport in 2015.
Cuban coach Yoandri Betanzos mostly imparts triple jump training to his wards through his actual leaps rather than verbal instructions and that has benefitted Praveen Chithravel, who recently won a silver medal in the Asian Indoor Championships in Kazakhstan.
Chithravel has been training under Betanzos, a double World Championships silver medallist, at the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) at Bellary, Karnataka since October-November 2021 and since then he has scaled new heights, having joined the 17m club with a 17.18m jump at the National Inter-State Championships last year.
"My former coaches used to mostly give verbal instructions about the technique and how to jump, but Betanzos is different. He also jumps with me and I can learn the techniques from his jump," Chithravel said in a virtual interaction.
"It's like a live demonstration because he gives (the techniques) directly through his jumps. I watch his jumps and learn from the techniques. It helps a lot as I can see with my eyes and then apply them (techniques). I can better improve on my weaknesses."
Betanzos is just 41 after retiring from the sport in 2015. His personal best in triple jump stands at 17.65m. Chitravel smashed the national indoor record during his silver medal-winning effort with a jump of 16.98m in Astana on February 10.
The performance bettered Amarjeet Singh's earlier national indoor record of 16.26m set during the 2008 Doha edition. "The Asian Indoor was not in our schedule but we decided around 20 days before the event that I would take part in that," said the 21-year-old athlete from a village in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.
"My target this year is to do well in the World Championships and win a medal in the Asian Games. So, we thought the experience of competing with some top Asian athletes will be beneficial to us when I compete in the Asian Games."
Asked about his experience at the Asian Indoor Championships. he said, "Since it was an indoor event, there was no wind and so I had to run faster. I moved one foot back from the usual start of my run. "The outside temperature was also very cold, minus degrees. So I had to be smart." He said he will train mostly at the IIS but his coach is also planning to take him abroad.
"Training at the IIS Bellary has helped me a lot in my career and performance. This institute has helped me financially also," said Chithravel, a farm labourer's son. "My coach said we may be going to Brazil or Europe. But he will decide," said Chithravel, who is planning to compete in the National Open Jumps Competition at Bellary on March 2.
Asked if he would want to attempt breaking the national record of 17.30m which is in the name of Renjith Maheswary, Chithravel said, "Of course, that is one of my targets but that will happen if I do well in World Championships and win medal at the Asian Games."
The World Championships will be held in Budapest, Hungary in August and Chithravel is yet to qualify for the showpiece. Since jumping past 17m in June 2022 in Chennai, Chithravel has not been able to touch that magic mark in major events like the World Championships in USA last year and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Asked about that, Chithravel said, "I was having small injuries, that is why I am not being able to have all the attempts during competition. "My mother was sad that I was not getting medals in the World Championships and Commonwealth Games but she cried when I won this silver medal. She wants me to come home but I said I can't as I am training hard."