Jakarta, Aug 30, 2018 : Four years back, Arpinder Singh thought his career was all but over. When he broke a 20-year old national record in triple jump with a 17.17m leap in 2014, the then 20 year old from Amritsar became a talking point of the Indian athletics fraternity. That same year, he also won a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
In a bid to qualify for the Rio Olympics, Arpinder shifted base to London, but the move boomeranged badly. Apart from failing to acclimatize, he struggled with his technique that the coaches in UK tried to modify. They said his run up was faulty, and his first hop needed work.
With his confidence at an all-time low, the 6’2’’ athlete found it challenging to even breach the 16m mark. Months before the Olympics, he returned to India to re-train in a familiar set up, and with his old technique after just 11 months in London.
“I had jumped 17m in 2014, and the government was spending a lot of money on me for my training there,” he said. “There was this pressure of repaying the faith they had shown in me.”
In 2016, the veteran Renjith Maheshwary leapt a stunning 17.30m to shatter Arpinder’s record and qualify for Rio. Away from the limelight and pressure of training for the Olympics, Arpinder went about unlearning all that he had learnt during his stint away from India.
He burst back into the scene, qualifying for the Commonwealth Games earlier this year. But he missed out on a bronze narrowly even though he had touched the 17m mark. After jumping 17.09m at the National Inter-state Athletics Championships in Guwahati in June, he made the cut for the Asian Games.
His new base was Trivandrum, where he trained under the watchful eyes of Bedros Bedrosian, the Romanian coach. Arpinder worked on his arm action, his last stride, and his landing. The changes were there to see on Wednesday evening. Despite a foul in his first attempt, he jumped 16.58m and 16.77m in his second and third attempts respectively. He fouled in his last attempt too, but the job was done by then! Arpinder bagged gold, while Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Kurbanov finished second with a leap of 16.62m.
Arpinder’s jump, of course, is well below his personal best, but it was good enough to get home India’s first triple jump gold from the Asian Games in 48 years.
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