Sreeshankar jumped 8.26m to obliterate his previous national record of 8.20m set at the 2018 National Open Athletics Championships.
He crossed the 8m-mark five times, ultimately breaching the Olympic qualification mark of 8.22m in his fifth attempt. His jump places him at the top of the list of best jumps in Asia.
Early life: Murali Sreeshankar
Born on March 27, 1999, near Palakkad in Kerala, Sreeshankar turned out to have a natural talent for athletics. His parents, both of whom were former international athletes, played a key role in ensuring that he climbs the ladder of athletic success.
He currently trains under his father S. Murali, a former international triple jumper. He refused to train under a foreign coach offered by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) as he feels his father understands his psyche better than others.
"My father initiated me slowly into long jumping. He was building me up meticulously in a proper way, considering all fundamentals required to become a proper long jumper. My dad himself was a long jumper and had trained under foreign coaches and knew how to develop an athlete properly," Murali Sreeshankar told the Olympic Channel.
On the rise
Sreeshankar started off as a track and field athlete, but eventually found his true calling in the long jump.
He carved his name on the domestic circuit after clearing a 7.99m jump at the 2018 Federation Cup. He won bronze with a leap of 7.47m at the 2018 Asian Junior Athletics Championships.
“There are a lot of technical corrections I need to make and improvise. If I’m able to get those right, I’m sure I’ll be able to jump around 8.40m by the end of the season. Hopefully, I can do that in the Olympic Games and win that elusive medal for our country," Murali Sreeshankar added.
Murali Sreeshankar finished sixth in the 2018 Asian Games final with an effort of 7.95m. In the same year, he smashed the national record at the National Open Athletics Championships after leaping 8.20m.
The feat earned him a ticket to the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha. His 8.20m effort was recorded as the world's best that season among under-20 athletes.
He recently made headlines after leaping 8.05m in the second season of the Indian Grand Prix Athletics meet held last month.
Road ahead: Poised for glory at the Tokyo Olympics
For Sreeshankar, who admits the last three years have been a learning curve, Olympic qualification is a reassurance of his potential. He became the first Indian male long jumper to qualify for the Olympics in five years.
The last time India featured in the long jump event was during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Till date, Sanjay Kumar Rai, TC Yohanan, and Baldev Singh have competed at the Olympics in the men's long jump event.