Sunday, June 23, 2024

Muhammed Anees poised to leap out of the shadows


Muhammed Anees was a really energetic child. And so Ansar, who had coached his older brother Muhammed Anas, felt the teenager ought to check out athletics too. 

However because the amenities at Kollam’s Nilamel village, the place he lived, weren’t ample, Anees left for the Sports activities Authority of India (SAI) centre in Thiruvananthapuram, the place he was chosen directly. He started as a excessive jumper and sampled the 400m hurdles after a suggestion from SAI coach Nishad Kumar earlier than a multi-event junior competitors modified his life perpetually.

Discovering his calling

“I did the octathlon and did very nicely within the lengthy soar. Seeing this, my coach Nishad suggested me to deal with the lengthy soar,” stated Anees. “I couldn’t calm down within the excessive soar, I couldn’t get a correct arch within the Fosbury flop and so I began taking the lengthy soar critically.”

He was nearly 19 when he took to the brand new occasion however was quickly producing high quality. He claimed silver on the Vijayawada Junior Nationals in 2014 (7.20m). After ending runner-up on the 2016 Inter-State Nationals in Hyderabad (7.64m), he clinched gold on the year-ending Nationwide Open.

“One way or the other, 2016 made me a assured lengthy jumper. Other than the Inter-State silver, I additionally did 7.80 in an Indian Grand Prix meet [in Bengaluru] that yr,” he stated.

The standard bearers: Jeswin Aldrin and M. Sreeshankar, Anees says, have done a world of good for Indian long jump, forcing others to improve and keep up. | Photo credit: Special Arrangement

The usual bearers: Jeswin Aldrin and M. Sreeshankar, Anees says, have performed a world of fine for Indian lengthy soar, forcing others to enhance and sustain. | Picture credit score: Particular Association

With the Rio Olympics beckoning, 2016 was a magical yr for a lot of. Anas broke the 400m nationwide file in Poland. Ankit Sharma bettered the nationwide lengthy soar file with a then eye-popping 8.19m in Kazakhstan. So, Anees was not in need of inspiration throughout that interval.

Surprisingly, the lengthy soar has superior by leaps and bounds since Rio 2016. Jeswin Aldrin (8.42m, nationwide file) and M. Sreeshankar (8.41) occupied the highest two rungs on this yr’s world record for months earlier than slipping to No. 3 and 4. This yr alone, three males — V.Ok. Elakkiyadasan (8.09), P. David (8.05) and S. Lokesh (8.02) — entered Indian lengthy soar’s 8m membership.

Anees joined this membership on the 2021 Federation Cup in Patiala and now has a private better of 8.15m, which first got here in March 2022 on the Indian Open Jumps Meet in Thiruvananthapuram. That positioned him fourth within the all-time Indian record behind Aldrin (8.42, 2023), Sreeshankar (8.41, 2023) and Ankit (8.19, 2016). He now has 4 8.15m jumps to his credit score, together with the one which fetched him gold on the season-ending Nationwide Video games in Goa.

Harm woes

The 27-year-old, a havildar with Kerala Police, had been hit by accidents this season. He struggled to the touch 8m for a big a part of the yr earlier than returning to kind in Goa.

“First, I had knee ache, I didn’t get better nicely after which I had hamstring and popliteus muscle points,” he stated. “However there have been meets one after one other so I didn’t get a lot time for restoration. Fortunately, I used to be freed from accidents on the Nationwide Video games.”

Whereas Sreeshankar and Jeswin stayed away from the Nationwide Video games, weary after a protracted season, Anees was chasing an enormous goal in Goa.

“I used to be assured of qualifying for the Olympics [entry standard 8.27m], that was my aim. Had I not been assured of creating the reduce, I might not have gone to Goa. Sadly, it didn’t occur. I used to be in 8.30-plus kind however I couldn’t get it,” stated Anees.

“I couldn’t get the runway accurately and couldn’t discover the josh [stimulation] of the meet absolutely as a result of most of the prime guys had been lacking. When it will get robust, you might be below stress and that’s when you’ll be able to pull out your massive jumps.”

Work in progress: His coaches feel Anees, who finished fifth at last year’s Commonwealth Games, still has plenty of room for improvement. | Photo credit: Getty Images

Work in progress: His coaches really feel Anees, who completed fifth finally yr’s Commonwealth Video games, nonetheless has loads of room for enchancment. | Picture credit score: Getty Photographs

Anees, who was fifth within the 2022 Commonwealth Video games (7.97m), is now being coached by Anoop Joseph, a nationwide camp coach who guided Ancy Sojan to the ladies’s lengthy soar silver on the Asian Video games.

“I feel I can do 8.30-plus, that’s the plan,” stated Anees. “I’m not simply seeking to qualify for the Olympics, I’m additionally hoping to do nicely in Paris. In the long term, on an ideal day, I really feel I can do 8.45m or extra. In truth, finally yr’s Federation Cup at Thenhipalam, I had a small foul in one of many jumps nevertheless it was shut to eight.40m.”

Athletics followers leapt in pleasure that day as Aldrin (8.26m and a wind-assisted 8.37m, +4.1) and Sreeshankar (8.36m) produced world-class jumps, lighting up Thenhipalam.

Anees feels the presence of Sreeshankar and Aldrin has performed a world of fine for lengthy soar within the nation.

“Solely when you have any person in entrance of you’ll be able to you consider getting previous him. Should you don’t have anyone forward of you, as a substitute of competing in India, you’ll have to go overseas for competitions. 

“However the primary downside is, typically we peak early, particularly when we have now simply two entries at occasions just like the Asian Championships and Asian Video games [three can qualify for the Olympics and Worlds]. And due to that, we’re unable to supply our greatest jumps throughout a serious competitors.

“We can’t be at our peak in all competitions. If we peak early, and if we get hole, we will get better nicely, after which slowly get again to good kind. If we have now a contest [a qualifying meet] three months earlier than a serious meet that might be very best.”

What the long run holds

Anees, who certified for final yr’s Worlds in Oregon via the world rankings route, plans to coach in India subsequent yr and go overseas for some competitions earlier than the Paris Olympics.

“We have to go overseas as a result of a lot of the Indian competitions are ‘F’ class occasions which provide fewer rating factors. We have to compete in ‘B’ or ‘C’ class meets, which provide extra factors and make it simpler to qualify for the Olympics via the world rankings route,” he stated.

Coach Anoop Joseph feels Anees, who’s supported by the GoSports Basis, is a piece in progress.

“His velocity has to enhance just a little extra, he missed a variety of coaching due to the accidents. And a few corrections in approach additionally must be performed, particularly within the touchdown part. And typically his higher physique goes a bit an excessive amount of to the entrance whereas taking off,” stated Joseph.

With Anees poised to leap up a rung quickly, subsequent yr might see three of India’s all-time finest lengthy jumpers battling it out on the street to Paris. And because the nation’s No. 2 athletics occasion behind the javelin — when it comes to medal potential on the majors — the lengthy soar is ready for an thrilling future.

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