'Jump like madmen' - How advice from Bengaluru helped Eldhose, Aboobacker create history at Commonwealth Games
Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker created history when they became the first Indian men to finish in top two in any Commonwealth Games event.
When Abdulla Aboobacker, the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games silver medallist, became the third Indian to break the 17m barrier in Triple Jump earlier this year, he was joined by an unassuming Karthik Unnikrishnan just minutes later in the elite 17m club.
While Aboobacker has since gone from strength to strength along with Eldhose Paul (the gold medallist from Birmingham) and Praveen Chitravel, Karthik Unnikrishnan has been stuck at SAI Bengaluru and was unlucky to miss out on both the World Championships and CWG.
"They always spoke about doing these big jumps outside India in big competitions. They were never content with crossing this 17m mark in India," Karthik told The Bridge on the day both his friends Eldhose and Aboobacker breached that magical mark to earn a top two finish for India at the Commonwealth Games in triple jump.
While Eldhose Paul took the gold at 17.03m, Aboobacker settled for silver with 17.02m. The youngest of them all, Praveen Chitravel, though, had to face the heartbreak of missing out on the bronze by just 3 centimetres with a best of 16.89m.
"I am so happy for both Eldhose and Aboobacker. We have been training together for a long time. Eldhose had not ever crossed 17m, but he did it today when it mattered the most," said Karthik who shares a room with Aboobacker in SAI Bangalore.
'Aboobacker could have done a lot better'
Coach Hari Krishnan, who could not travel to Birmingham due to visa problems, too echoed the same sentiments after his wards clinched the historic medals.
"I had expected this. I am very happy with what they did but, I feel Aboobacker could have done a lot better. He has jumped 17.19m," the coach said.
Hari Krishnan has been training Aboobacker since 2018 when the triple jumper joined the Indian Air Force, while he has been working with Eldhose Paul since 2020.
"Eldhose is someone we always knew had the talent. He is a small guy – just 1.70m in height, but the way he jumped today was unbelievable," Hari Krishnan said.
"The thing with Eldhose is that he is a quick learner. When he joined me, he had a lot of technical flaws, but the way he has improved in the past two years has been commendable. He has that knack of rectifying this very quickly," he added.
Fellow long jumper Anees plays role of messenger
Stuck in SAI Bangalore while his wards were competing in their most high-profile tournament, Hari Krishnan last spoke to them before the warm-ups.
"I spoke to Eldhose and Abdulla before the warm-ups. The only thing I told them then was this is supposed to be your day. Forget about everything and jump like madmen," he said.
Though the warm-up was the last time Hari Krishnan spoke to his students, he was in constant touch with them via long jumper Muhammed Anees Yahiya, who was present in the stands at the Alexander Stadium during the event.
"My mobile had multiple uses today. I was following the event on my mobile and was in constant touch with Anees on a call. I relayed messages from here and Anees was passing it out to Eldhose and Aboobacker," Hari Krishnan said.
"All these guys are good friends. Eldhose shares a room with Anees and he played his role of messenger to perfection to help them better their jumps," he added.