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‘Enough of studies, now let me focus on sport’ | Eye News

Small acts of everyday freedom go a long way in establishing who we are as a people, and who we may want to become as a society and a nation. Ahead of Independence Day, we bring you stories of little acts of defiance, endless notes of possibilities

It was my last BSc mathematics exam in 2021. I went home from the university, kept all my books in front of my mother and said: “Enough is enough, I’ve done everything in my life for studies, now let me focus on my sport.”

Till that point, I had to juggle between academics and sports for years, be it at school, engineering college or for BSc in Mathematics. But now I have the freedom to focus solely on winning medals for the country in long jump. I get time now to learn about other things outside the academic world — from finance to music and culture of other countries. Maybe after 2024, after the Paris Olympics, I may pursue a Masters course but for now, it is pure athletics.

There was a time when I would carry my books to national camps and competitions. My schedule was hell when I was in Class XII and even during my first term in engineering college. Had I continued engineering, it would have been impossible to pursue athletics. I would not have come to this level in long jump. That is 100 per cent sure.

When I was in Class XII, I won all the main Under-18 competitions. I had the high school record, the junior national gold, the youth national meet record.

But on the other side was a rigorous routine. Physics tuition at 5.45 am, special classes at 7.30 am, 4 pm special classes again. After 4 pm, catch a bus, reach home by 4.45 pm, then take a nap for 15 minutes, get ready for training at 5.15 pm, reach the ground at 5.30 pm, train till 8 pm. Study till 9 pm and sleep at 2 am. Because of that, my sleep routine went for a toss; I still stay up till 1 am.

I was always a good student and scored 96 per cent in the CBSE exams. I got through NEET in the sports quota and also cleared the Kerala engineering entrance on merit in 2017.

In engineering, I think I had a 9.72 CGPA score in the first term. At that time, I was selected for the Asian Indoor Championships and because of competitions, I missed out on classes, workshops and internals. So, within a year of joining, I opted out. I gave my fullest, but if I had carried on with the same kind of routine for one more year, I think I would have gone mad. My parents would hear none of it, they said, at least do BSc mathematics.

By then, I was selected for Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Junior Championships. It took some convincing my parents and relatives that I am dropping out of engineering for sport.

My dad has eight brothers and two sisters, and all my cousins are very good in academics. My sister is doing MBBS, my cousin is doing her MD, four of them are engineers and they work abroad. They are all rank-holders and entrance-toppers.

Today, when I stand on the approach (on the field), everything blanks out except for me, the approach run and the sand pit. I just run towards the board, maintain a good rhythm and have a good takeoff.

I am a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, but even now when my sister comes home, my parents say, “Look at her, she is doing her MBBS, you have only done BSc Mathematics.”

As told to Nihal Koshie

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