Overcoming various odds

Overcoming various odds

Personality : On a comeback trail, high jumper Chethan is rising up the ranks in fine fashion

Overcoming various odds

Injuries can be cruel to sportspersons. The timing or the impact of an injury can dent an athlete’s confidence to an extent that his or her career may be set back by several years.

Chethan B of Karnataka has overcome a similar phase of adversity with courage and character. After a sustained success this year, the high jumper’s promising career has taken a turn for the better as he received a call-up for the Asian Athletics Championships which was held in Bhubaneswar earlier this month.

The 25-year-old scripted his personal best of 2.20 metres to bag the silver at the Open National Championships in Lucknow last year but it was at the Federation Cup this June he drew greater attention with his performance. In a strong field, Chethan produced an effort of 2.18 metres to pip national record holder Tejaswin Shanker of Delhi to clinch the gold. The Federation Cup triumph earned him a place in the Indian team for the Asian Championships.

Chethan equalled his personal best of 2.20 metres to finish fifth at the Asian meet. The Hoskote athlete, who rued the lack of a coach at the India camp after failing to win a medal, bagged silver at the recently concluded Inter-State Athletic Championships in Guntur. Chethan’s improvement graph has been rising but if not for his fighting spirit, he would have had to call time on his career two years ago.

Recollecting how he dealt with a serious back injury, Chethan says it was extremely tough to dodge negative thoughts and keep himself motivated.

“I was diagnosed with a disc bulge in 2014. I consulted three doctors and they were of the opinion that I must stop competing. Sports medicine is a very sensitive field and not every health centre knows how to treat injuries caused by sports in India. After different types of advices, I thankfully met doctor Hegde from Manipal Hospital and it was he who instilled faith in me that I can return to the field again. I had lost so much time and it took two years for me to completely recover,” says Chethan.

What was more devastating for Chethan was the fact that the injury occurred at a time when he had begun making a mark at the national level. “From 2009 to 2012, I represented Nationals but failed to win a medal. It was in 2013, at the Open Nationals in Ranchi that I broke the jinx with a bronze medal show. It was tough to come to terms with the fact that I had to stop competing just when I was feeling good about my game. I was advised complete bed rest and I couldn’t even lift a small bucket,” he reveals.

Chethan’s next big goal is to do well at the Asian and Commonwealth Games next year and his coach GV Gaonkar is confident about his ward winning more laurels.

“When he came to me last year I worked on muscle training. Slowly I moved on correcting his take-off. Chethan’s biggest strength is his optimistic attitude. He never gives up despite strong opponents against him. He is ready to give his 200 percent during the training and that makes my job easier,” says Gaonkar.

While he credits first coach Ramesh for fine tuning his basics, Chethan feels his association with Gaonkar, a veteran high jump coach, has resulted in drastic improvement.

“From 2.09 metres I have reached 2.20 metres under Gaonkar sir. It was my first coach Ramesh who recommended me to Gaonkar sir. It has been a fruitful experience from the past one year under him,” Chethan offers.

Asian Athletics Championships was Chethan’s second international meet. He had earlier represented the country in the World University Meet in 2013. Chethan feels better mental strength is key to win medals at the big stage. “I observed in the Asian Meet that the athletes from other countries are mentally very strong. I am working on this area with my coach now. Apart from fitness training, I give time to strengthen my mindset by indulging in practices such as meditation,” he explains.

Hailing from a family that practices agriculture for earning, financial burden was another challenge Chethan tackled. “My most memorable performance came at the inter-university meet in Patiala in 2013. Despite struggling with my back injury, I decided to compete to meet the financial demands. I cleared 2.12 metres to clinch silver. It was special considering the circumstances I was in,” he says.

Chethan’s visions are clear and he is working hard to break the 2.30 barrier. “I want to set a national record and win medals at the International level. I am training hard for it,” he beams.


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