Triple jumper Arpinder Singh has learnt his lessons the hard way. After changing four training bases and as many coaches, the 26-year-old has been training at the Inspire Institute of Sports in Bellary for the past eight months to regain his lost form and is finally finding a firm stepping.
Singh underwent a two-month training stint in USA at the start of the year but had a below par showing in the Federation Cup in March soon after returning from the training stint. He then requested the Sports Authority of India to send him to Chula Vista again under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme so he can resume his training. But that never happened.
“If I had trained there for six months or a year, I knew I would get good,” he said. “When you have that group, you tend to get in the competitive spirit and work harder. I waited for TOP scheme approval to help me but they never did.”
This meant that he had to find a place to train in India and moved from one coach to another for over a month before settling in on IIS in May.
“Changing coaches is not the best of ideas,” Singh said. “This is the fourth training centre I have changed in the last year or so. I am slowly finding it good here.”
At IIS, he is training under Anthony Yaich along with junior national record holder Praveen Chitravel. Initially, he found the Frenchman’s methods somewhat difficult to follow and different from his own. But slowly, he saw improvement.
“My training is stable now in the off-season,” he said. “I am following the program of one coach and not going around the country. Here, everything is for my benefit where it is coaches, weight training, food or gym.”
“They changed my style and exercises and I took time to get used to things. The results may not show it but I have felt better here and my body has been better,” said Singh, who has failed to jump 17 metres even once this year and missed the qualifying for World Championships.
But at the Inter-State Athletics Championships in August in Lucknow, Singh jumped 16.83m. It was not his best but showed improvement from what he had jumped in Patiala in March.
Technical changes beginning to work
Working with Yaich on a few technical changes have assured Singh that he can only get better from where he was six months ago.
“My speed has improved along with the strength,” he said. “The biggest change in technique is that I have focused on landing more horizontally. Earlier, I was doing 5.40 or 5.50 metres in the last jump. But now the I keep low in hop and step and then when I jump, I go with speed and try to make it more than 6 metres. When I was doing it earlier, I was stretching my final two steps too much and the speed would decrease.”
The 26-year-old had thought of achieving these changes in USA where he went after winning the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. But his stint there was during off-season which failed to yield desired results. Then another roadblock came when he was stuck at the National Institute of Sports for three months.
“Patiala doesn’t have jumps camp or any coaches,” he said. “I waited too long there. My coach used to send a program from USA and I followed it. But facility is not available for the things he had mentioned. I was alone and nothing was working so I was kind of giving up.”
It was a familiar feeling to when he was in London before the Commonwealth Games. The triple-jumper was expected to be India’s top bet for a medal but he failed in Gold Coast.
“The hardest I have ever trained is in London,” he said. “That is why it hurts the most. People changed when I did not win a medal in Australia and everyone spoke things like London ghumne gaya tha [he was just there to waste time].
“I was cycling in freezing cold to a centre seven kilometres away every day. I had to prepare my own food after those long session. They trained for two hours and had a 15-minute break and then again for two hours. But then people changed after Asian Games. That was the time I stopped believing anyone.”
But now he is being pushed by Chitravel as well. Both train together and try to outperform the other in training.
“I tell myself that I am senior than him so if he can do a certain level in jump or in the gym, I want to do better than him,” he said.
“He is very good at his age and perhaps better than even me when it comes to speed. He has to develop technique but a couple of years later, he can outdo everyone else.”
With fresh start to his career, Singh will travel to South Africa in January for the a two-week camp before participating in local competitions.
“It will be the first jump of the season so I won’t say I will qualify [for Olympics],” he said. “I have not set a target but if I am feeling good, I can achieve it.”