Olympics: PR Sreejesh, India’s last-second saviour

At the point when PR Sreejesh was in grade school, at a town 30 kilometers east of Kochi, his actual instruction educator was persuaded that he had uncovered the following wearing sensation. Sreejesh was acceptable at everything — he could heave the disk and spear a reasonable distance, he could jump, crush and spike, he was in both volleyball and ball groups, could play out the long leap just as high leap. Some of the time, he could run as well, however he, at the end of the day, scorned running.

He delighted in each game, expect hockey that is.

So flexible was Sreejesh that he was alluded to GV Raja Sports School, the public authority run essential games school in state capital Thiruvananthapuram, where he could sharpen whatever donning expertise he needed.

It was hard to persuade his wary guardians, who were ranchers, before his instructors hung the brilliant carrot of those occasions. “Sports share, government work.” Sreejesh also was gung-ho, with the exception of when the snapshot of takeoff showed up, an unspeakable weight burdened his psyche. “I had never avoided them, and the day I was to board the train, I separated. I would not like to leave. I’m normally a sure kid, however that day, I felt uncomfortable,” he had once recalled to this correspondent.

Thiruvananthapuram, simply 200km away, seemed like ages away. A new culture, food propensities and environmental elements, a distant universe from his family, companions and ranches. In any case, as the train moved ahead the flawless backwaters and streams on that tourist detour, Sreejesh reworked his confidence. Toward the finish of the three-hour-venture, as he set foot in Thiruvananthapuram, he out of nowhere felt grown-up and sure, and prepared to confront the world. “I felt an abrupt rush of certainty, as though my life planned to change, that this was the start of my genuine excursion,” he said.

A fresh start

Life was to change past Sreejesh’s most stunning creative mind. At the school, he passed by a gathering of young people playing hockey. He had little sign that this was to be his predetermination. The following day, he strolled into the tosses field. He was left stunned by the rawness of individual students. “I felt like a worm.” He halted by the ball and volleyball courts. “I appeared to be a smaller person.” He thought on football. “No, it included a ton of running”. Cricket? “No, I didn’t get the kicks.” Finally, he warmed up a few hockey folks who were his age and of comparative body. He used to spend time with them and would in some cases employ the stick, however absent a lot of achievement.

That is the point at which one of the hockey mentors, Jayakumar, spotted him. “He was a protector or a middle half, who was an apathetic sprinter. In any case, had amazing reflexes that consistently saved him. Then, at that point I thought why not make him a goalkeeper. Children don’t care for being ‘managers, however it’s a significant job,” he clarifies.

A long time later, those brief moment reflexes would make him perhaps the best goalkeeper. His recoveries all through the games were instrumental in coordinating India’s bronze award in Tokyo, finishing a 41-year-dry spell. The recoveries against Germany were fantastic, particularly the one he pulled off in the withering phases of the match, locked at 5-4. The punishment corner looked objective bound before his reflexes interceded. It was not reflexes alone that went behind the save, yet his free energy, his unbudging will.

After the game, India mentor Graham Reid said, “Having somebody in objective as solid as Sreejesh makes a difference. He’s a robust of Indian hockey. He’s done a great deal of work behind the scenes to get to where he is today.”

To be the robust, it required hours on field.

“He set aside effort to become acclimated to the stuff, yet all the other things he caught on quickly. He had that game sense and expectation, and for his age, he had the presence,” Jayakumar says. Then, at that point as Sreejesh hit teen, he began becoming taller and strong and was really confused with a shot-putter or spear hurler. “A many individuals thought he was one of them,” he says.

However Jayakumar was sure of his ward’s latent capacity, he realized it would be squandered in Kerala, a hockey backwater, which thinks of it as a game “where India was once heavenly yet presently faltering”, where the game is scarcely observed in any event, during the Olympics.

No takers for hockey

That the state constructed its first astro turf in quite a while the secrecy of the game in this neighborhood. Only seven have addressed the country from the state, and with the exception of Sreejesh all in the pre-astro turf time. He had recently a worn out goalkeeping stuff, and more terrible, it was not even accessible in his town. Adventitiously, however, the state’s two most rumored hockey players were goalkeepers — Helen Mary (2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist) and Manuel Frederick (1972 Munich Games bronze medallist).

Like the baseball club in Hindi films, the hockey stick was that torn piece of wood miscreants waved in motion pictures. So Jayakumar called one of his companions, then, at that point public junior mentor Harendra Singh to look at the youth. The last mentioned, fortuitously, had come to watch a U-14 competition in Thiruvananthapuram. Intrigued, he welcomed Jayakumar and Sreejesh to the lesser camp in Delhi in 2003. The last arrived at Delhi with simply a non-marked pack and not so much as a ‘attendant’s unit as his folks couldn’t manage the cost of one (it used to cost around Rs 15,000). “In between state competitions, they used to ridicule my stuff. It didn’t trouble me. I had my body and my greatest weapon was my brain,” he had said.

Wowed by the adolescent’s capacities, Harendra took him to the lesser camp for the 2004 Asia Cup. He didn’t make the last crew, however came to the Junior Asia Cup, after which he was never dropped from the lesser group. “Life changed,” Sreejesh said. Furthermore, it continued transforming; he turned into a different time Olympian, World-Cupper, Asian Games gold medallist, and presently Olympics bronze medallist.

A blissfully grinning Sreejesh peers from the strangest of commercial hoardings, a hair-weaving organization’s board on probably the most active street in Kochi, of a neighborhood sleeping cushion, a footwear brand that works in shoes and shoes, and as a Tokyo Olympics reporter for a vernacular paper.

Kerala didn’t fall head over heels for him right away, it was a greater amount of an organized marriage, wherein they ultimately experienced passionate feelings for him. Hockey as such has meager after, leave alone appreciation – Chak De! India scarcely saw a fortnight. That he more than once showed up for Tamil Nadu, as he was an Indian Overseas Bank representative situated in Chennai, didn’t cultivate a lot of adoration by the same token.

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