Formerly an aspiring medical school, Sherin is now a long jump champion

When Sherin Abdul Gaffoor, 20, entered the long jump, she hadn’t dreamed of growing up in the sport. She hoped the medals would improve her chances of being admitted to medical school through the sports quota. But Sherin didn’t know at the time that her date with track and field was going to change the course of her future, including her plans to become a doctor.

The Chennai jumper claimed gold at the National Under-23 Championship in Delhi on Tuesday with an impressive jump of 6.45m to finish ahead of Sandra Babu (6.29m) and Pooja Saini (6.22m).

Sherin got so involved in the sport that she felt that taking a demanding course like MBBS could hamper her athletic career. She convinced her parents to allow her to switch to engineering instead.

“When I told my parents they were really unhappy. After much argument, they were finally okay with “at least” an engineering degree, ”Sherin says.
But just a week after starting her engineering class, Sherin realized she would have to make another class correction.
The busy college schedule hampered his workout routine. Sherin’s priorities were clear. The brilliant student decided to stop just a week after starting her class to study sociology at MOP Vaishnav College in Chennai.

But her parents said “nothing to do” at first.

“My parents didn’t want me to just take an art class. I literally had to beg. I’m not kidding, my dad is right there and you can ask (Father nods). I said please allow me to quit engineering and focus on my sport. It took a while, but they realized how desperately I wanted it and finally agreed, but reluctantly, ”Sherin says.

Sherin’s parents have always had high expectations of her over-performing daughter. Before finding her true love in athletics, at the insistence of her parents, she tried her hand at piano, drums, violin, guitar and even Bharatnatyam.

“The long jump is an emotion,” Sherin says poetically. “When you stand at the start of the track it’s like a mental battle between you and the pit. During the jump I go to a different area, I forget everything around me for a while. The feeling is surreal, ”says Sherin.

The long jump, which started out as a way to improve one’s prospects for higher education, has become a passion. “I’m not a big jumper right now. I have a lot of areas to improve. The biggest obstacle right now is not having a full time coach to guide me. It makes a big difference, ”she says.

Sherin was training at an academy run by trainer P Nagarajan, who is now arrested following allegations of sexual harassment by some of his trainees.

Friends off the pitch

Sherin followed the advice of his elders at JLN Stadium in Chennai. For the Delhi meet, she traveled with her friends and fellow trainees Nandhini and Aishwarya, who respectively won silver and bronze in the 100m hurdles triple jump.

During Sherin’s final, Nandhini and Aishwarya would send jump clips to their elders in Chennai and relay the comments to their friend.

“Our seniors in Chennai told us what changes to make, and then we explained it to Sherin, it helped her a lot,” says Nandhini. In Aishwarya’s triple jump final on Wednesday, Sherin took control of the camera.

“We are very close and we support each other all the time. Not only do we train together, but we also go to the same college, ”explains Nandhini.

Sherin, who is also a talented dancer, was very happy to see Coach Bobby George with his wards compete. But the youngster says she couldn’t find the courage to go upstairs and chat with Bobby who coached Anju to bronze at the 2003 World Championships.

“He’s such a great coach, I feel very nervous approaching him. He’s been on the circuit for so long and there’s nothing he doesn’t know about jumps. I was about to say hello to him, but he took care of something, ”Sherin says.

When Sherin heard that Bobby had something to say about her, she was eager to hear what he had said. “She’s very consistent,” Bobby had said. It was enough to bring a dazzling smile to Sherin’s face.



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