At a very young age of 20-21, Sreeshankar Murali has performed brilliantly at the national and the international level. His recent performances and results have made him to be compared with the greats. His attitude and the way he looks at life is amazing.
You have been extremely active since your childhood. Explain your childhood to us.
Both my parents were international athletes. So I had developed interest in track and field events from my childhood itself. I used to play cricket and basketball with my friends but I mainly focused on Long Jump. I participated in many competitions and I also won many medals. Those moments were extremely special and I enjoyed Long Jump a lot.
I had a spacious living room where there was a sofa. I used to take a small run up and then jump onto the sofa. Due to this the sofa was broken with its one leg.
Why and when did you decide to choose long jump as your main event?
My father was a triple jumper and from the start itself I used to jump over hurdles, so it was kind of in my genetics. My father also told me the risks and injuries involved in triple jumps and high jumps, so I decided to focus to long jump rather than other events.
Being my coach, my father takes utmost care about what I eat and how much hours of sleep I get. He is always there with me throughout my competitions and practise sessions.
Who was your main source of inspiration?
My parents have inspired me a lot as they too were athletes. My father has been my coach since the start and he continues to guide me on the correct path.
At a very young age, you hold so many records. How is that feeling? And how do you even remember so many of them?
I held the U-12 record in the state category at the early age. After that for almost 3 years I didn’t win a national medal. The other athletes were in a better shape and I think they performed better than me. I came back to winning terms when I was around 15 years old.
I currently hold 4-5 state records in various competitions.
I have National Youth Championship Record, National High school Record, some junior records and National Records to my name.
Every successful campaign has a long and important process. Please tell us about how you have trained to reach the next summits of life.
Currently I have a High Performance Planner appointed by the Athletics Federation of India. He has made an advanced plan for my improvement. He makes the schedule of the training sessions and makes sure I improve on weaker sections.
I generally practise for 1.5 hours a day and there are 5 sessions a week. You might definitely think whether this practise time is enough for improvement or not. So the answer to this is that the schedule which is planned is mainly focused on the qualitative part rather than the quantitative part. The trainer also has a diet plan for me which helps me in staying fit.
My main aim right now is the 2019 World Championships which are going to be held in Doha.
What all things you have to sacrifice when you are completely into the practise sessions and how difficult is it?
It is very difficult to control all the attractions but somehow I am used to it. During my 12th board exams I restricted myself from watching television and I tried to focus on my studies.
Now -a -days youth are attracted towards the mobile game PUBG. I keep myself away from that game also which may distract me from my focus and aims.
How do you face the highs and lows of the life? How do you handle negativity?
My dad motivates me a lot as he knows what an athlete goes through during his career. I think we need to be mentally fit for facing highs and lows. We need to motivate ourselves rather than paying attention to the negative sides of the life.
Who are the people who have always supported you through the difficulties?
I have a huge family who supports me a lot. My father is the youngest among the 11 children my grandparents had. Almost all of them were involved in sports. My uncle was a record holder in 200m, my cousin was a junior national champion in high jump, one of my cousins is a prominent shooter, and some of my cousins are state level Basketball players, so I get motivation from all of them.
What all difficulties have you faced in your career?
I have faced a lot of difficulties in my career, may it be internal matters or external.
According to me the worst any athlete can face is the injuries. I had to go through an appendicitis operation last year which affected my career. I had to start from the very beginning and it took time to get back to the best abilities.
What kind of government and federation support do you receive?
The government and the AFI (Athletics Federation of India) are doing a very good job for the development of Indian Athletics. They are arranging camps in different countries for the athletes and the infrastructure is also being improved. The facilities at the SAI (Sports Association of India) are developing and overall there is a good rate of improvement in the country.
In this year I represented India in 5 international competitions in which 3 were European and 2 Asian competitions. I won 4 Gold and a silver medal in the span of 25 days.
People who study the game state that you along with Neeraj Chopra and Hima Das are the bright future of India and there are high hopes from you to win a lot of medals ahead. How is the feeling when you are looked upon as the main ray of hope?
I think it is more of a responsibility to give 100% justice to the hope people have in me. 2020 Olympics is definitely the main aim and I am working hard towards it.
People get to know you when you succeed and win something for the country. Moreover I think that it helps the game to flourish. People start taking interest in your sport and they become more curious about what you have actually done. In a way I am contributing in the development of Athletics and it really feels great to do so.
What are people’s reactions to your success?
I get a lot of appreciation from people across the country. I receive phone calls, greeting cards and a lot of praise. But I also make sure that I don’t get too much affected by the praise because I have to achieve a lot in my life and I have the whole of my career in front of me, so I try to focus on the next aims of my life.
What are your aims in your future career?
The main aims in front of me are the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. I will be physically developed by then and I would have gained the muscles and the body required. If you look at me right now, I am like a wire without any muscles.
What is the message you will give to the youth?
What I will say is that don’t find shortcuts to success and come out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve something in life.
Let’s take a rapid fire round!
What would you choose, training in India or Abroad?
I will prefer training in India.
If you weren’t a long jumper, then what would you have been, Cricketer or basketball player?
World Championships or Olympics Medal, which would matter to you the most?
Your favourite international long jumper?
Luvo Manyonga of South Africa.
Your favourite Indian Long Jumper?
Wow, what an amazing young talent this is! Interviewing the next star of Indian Athletics was a different experience and we at SportsBeatsIndia wish him good luck for his future.