An exciting trio of Indian triple jumpers has created waves with their performances this season and Praveen Chithravel is deservedly one of them. He narrowly missed out on a medal at the Commonwealth Games (CWG), even as compatriots Eldhose Paul (17.03m) and Abdulla Aboobacker (17.02m) won a historic gold and silver in Birmingham but the young Tamil Nadu jumper, eager to finish his season on a high, made up for the absence of his illustrious compatriots with a gold and a Games record as the Nationals got underway.
With Paul pulling out of the event, and Abdulla withdrawing on the final day, it was tough for Chithravel to push himself. He, however, did enough to claim the honours with a leap of 16.68m. All through, he was cheered by the students who filled the venue at the sprawling IIT Campus in Gandhinagar.
“Had there been the other two, I would have got some fight and pushed myself,” Chithravel said.
“We have really motivated each other and have crossed 17m. This season was good. I was injured in a competition in Italy in March but came back to win the Inter-state meet. In the world championships, the jumps were good but not enough to qualify for final. I will keep fighting,” said the 21-year-old who came into the limelight by winning the Youth Olympics bronze medallist in 2018.
The hot and humid conditions added to the challenge on the first day of the athletics competition. Chithravel, took his time and clocked his best with the third jump. The previous Games record was held by Renjith Maheshwary (16.66) at the Kerala edition seven years ago. It was a weak field with Arun AB of Kerala taking the second place with 16.08m and Arpinder Singh, who once held the national record, finishing with 15.97m.
Maheshwary’s national record (17.30m) has repeatedly been threatened this year, the way these three jumpers have raised the bar. At the world championships too, all three triple jumpers were in action with Paul qualifying for the final.
Reflecting on his performance at the CWG, Chithravel who finished fourth with the jump of 16.89m, said: “In CWG, I just missed by a few centimeters. My jumps were very good but my landing was bad. After CWG, I was taking it easy after a long year, I wanted to compete here and call off the season.”
He also had his season’s best of 17.18m this season but, as things turned out, his two compatriots stole the show at CWG.
It was not only Chithravel but National Games records tumbled in almost every event as it was happening after seven years. In the women’s shot put final, Kiran Baliyan won with a throw of 17.14m – a Games record –while Manpreet Kaur of Punjab came second (16.77m). In the hammer throw, Damneet Singh of Punjab also had a new record (67.62m). The men’s 1500m race was won by Parvej Khan of Services (3:40.89s), going past Bahadur Singh’s timing of 3:43.57 set in the 1994 Games. Delhi’s KM Chanda won the women’s 1500m competition (4:19.59s), staving off a late challenge from Ankita of Uttarakhand (4:19.86s)