Long jumper Murali Sreeshankar considers the Commonwealth Games silver medal as a "breakthrough" in his career, and says the podium finish in Birmingham has provided him the perfect impetus to lift his performance to the next level.
Sreeshankar clinched the silver in men's long jump in this year's Birmingham CWG with an effort of 8.08m.
He is representing Kerala at the National Games which started with the table tennis event in Gujarat on Tuesday.
"The season has been a great learning experience for me. I have been competing since March and to maintain the kind of performance till August-September, honestly it was very difficult. There was a lot of travelling, we had to adjust to various climatic conditions and then competing with the best in the world," he said in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
"I had a kind of breakthrough in my career with the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. My ranking has also improved a lot. I was somewhere around 60s when the season was about to begin. From here I have to build, Paris (Olympics) is just two years away and I am sure I will be able to build from here."
Sreeshankar said featuring consistently at top international events, like the Diamond Leagues, will be his focus going forward.
"Next season I am expecting to be more consistent in the international circuit, more frequent in the Diamond League circuit. To get there at the top is difficult, but I am sure it is possible with more international exposure," he said.
"Asian Games, CWG, National Games all these competitions are build up towards Paris Olympics. Medals in these events will definitely boost my morale ahead of Paris. I want to continue the same momentum in the Asian Games."
The 23-year-old long jumper from Palakkad in Kerala is expecting a tough competition in the National Games, especially in jump events.
"For jumpers the National Games is not a cake walk. We have three jumpers above 8.15.
"We have to think every national championships like a world level tournament, because the competition is very high, the domestic circuit is highly competitive. We have to be at our level best," he said.
"We are really excited about the National Games because it is my first and is happening after a long gap of seven years.
"For us National Games is as important as any other major tournament because it's the biggest sporting spectacle in the country. All athletes will be meeting at the same place and celebrate Indian sports."
Sreeshankar feels a good performance in the National Games will be of immense help to him ahead of next season.
"I am continuing the same training programme for the Asian Games also. I believe solid performance here will help me plan my season better.
"I do have my targets, but the most important thing for me here is to enjoy the competition, because the season has been pretty long and I want to finish the season on a very good note. My body is feeling really good. I am giving priority to this competition," he said.