'Only concern is since travel restrictions are imposed on Indian athletes, we are not able to compete and train abroad. It's a big challenge and I will face it and overcome it.'
Olympic-bound long jumper Murali Sreeshankar on Saturday said he is working on his technical flaws and is hoping to take part in competitions abroad once the current travel restrictions on Indians are eased.
The 22-year-old Kerala athlete, who in March had qualified for the Tokyo Games by bettering his own national record with a leap of 8.26m during the Federation Cup Senior National Athletics Championships in Patiala.
"Immediately after Federation Cup, we listed and pointed out all my drawbacks, in the sense what are the technicalities I am lagging behind. We coordinated everything and we are working on that,” Sreeshankar said at a virtual press conference arranged by Sports Authority of India.
"Everything is looking fine. Only concern is since travel restrictions are imposed on Indian athletes, we are not able to compete and train abroad. It's a big challenge and I will face it and overcome it."
He said once the travel restrictions are eased, he is looking at taking part in some competitions in the Asian circuit, if not in Europe.
"I am optimistic about Europe, but if not Europe then there is competition in the Asian circuit as well. I am looking forward (to) that before competing in the Olympics Games,” said the young long jumper.
Sreeshankar, who is currently training with his father, a former triple jumper, at the Government Medical College ground at Palakkad in Kerala, is optimistic of getting 3-4 competitions ahead of Olympics.
"I am hopeful of getting at-least three-four competitions ahead of the Olympics, so that all the fine-tuning process takes place perfectly and get ready for the big leap in Tokyo,” said Sreeshankar, adding that there are no issues concerning his diet too.
He said that if he is unable to take part in Asian or European competitions, he would participate in domestic events.
"I will definitely be competing in IGP-4 and National Inter-State (in June). If I jump in domestic circuit, it is also a big help for me. We have an 8m jumper here, two guys who are 7.90m, so it is a competitive atmosphere for me.
"My peers will be trying to push me hard, so I will be trying to push them even harder. But getting competitions in the international circuit is an entirely different scene. It is the best way to prepare for a big event like the Olympics,” he explained.
Asked what is the realistic mark for bagging a medal in Tokyo, he said, "My aim is to jump between 8.35m and 8.40m, that's what realistic distance my dad has figured out for me.
"I am improving my performance factors, the parameters are getting improved, every-time getting one-step closer to that big target. We have 60-65 days for the Olympics. I have got a good time to sharpen my skills, provided I get good competitions."
The youngster expects "mental pressure" during the Olympics and he is finding out a way to be at his best in Tokyo.
"Mental aspect will be important, there will be mental pressure, but I am finding out a way to perform (well). I have to be strong in mental aspect to be at (my) best at Tokyo,” he said.
Sreeshankar also said he is working with a psychologist provided by SAI.
"Things are pretty tough in the country (due to COVID-19 pandemic). Within my surroundings we have lost three lives. I know my responsibility towards the country as a sportsman, so that is important for me.
"I am committed 100 per cent to fulfil that responsibility towards my country. So nothing comes in my mind when I think about a medal for India at the Olympics," said Sreeshankar, who has received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.