Historic double for Kerala: Eldhose Paul, Abdulla Aboobacker win CWG gold and silver for triple jump

India narrowly missed a clean sweep at the podium as Tamil Nadu's Praveen Chithravel's jump was the fourth-best of the day.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Aug 07, 2022 | 9:56 PMUpdatedAug 07, 2022 | 9:56 PM

Eldhose Paul (on the left) and Abdulla Aboobacker celebrates after winning the gold and silver medal, respectively. (Twitter / @abumetha)

When the triple-jump final at the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) kicked off on Sunday, 7 August, at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, hardly anybody thought India would finish with a historic one-two at the podium. But Kerala’s Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker had other ideas.

They and Tamil Nadu’s Praveen Chitravel, who narrowly missed the bronze medal, performed splendidly. While Paul clinched his first CWG gold, his statemate and training partner Aboobacker grabbed silver.

Paul thus became the first Indian to finish on top of this discipline in the CWG, while the duo etched their names in the history books: Two Indian athletes finished at the podium for the first time in the triple jump event.

Jah-Nhal Perinchief of Bermuda won bronze with his best jump of 16.92m.

Height just a number

Paul, who has been called relatively short for his event by his coach M Harikrishnan, lived up to the expectations with explosive strength and speed.

His third jump of 17.03m — his first time breaching the 17m mark — won him the gold medal.

A 17m leap in a triple jump event is often considered the defining mark on the global stage.

His best effort to date, however, was not considered a personal best as there was a 3m-plus wind reading, but it won him the gold.

Before this, the best jump of 16.99m by the 25-year-old from Ernakulam district was at the National Championships in Chennai this year.

Paul started slowly in the final, with a 14.62m effort, but soon found his rhythm in the 12-man field.

A representative of Services in national competitions due to his job with the Indian Navy, Paul on Sunday also became the first Keralite to win a CWG gold medal.

He was also the first Indian to qualify for the triple jump finals at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in the US.

The cherry on the cake

Aboobacker’s silver came as a cherry on the cake, and contrary to everyone’s expectations.

A native of Ernakulam, Aboobacker — the third Indian to cross the 17m mark in May this year — also had a chance to grab the gold as he finished right behind Paul.

There was just a 1cm difference between the jumps of the two Indians.

An employee of the Indian Air Force, Aboobacker produced his best effort of 17.02m in his fifth attempt, just when he required it the most.

However, India narrowly missed a clean sweep at the podium as the 16.89m jump of Thanjavur’s Praveen Chithravel was fourth-best on the day.

In past CWG editions, India won four triple jump medals but was deprived of gold. Mohinder Singh Gill lifted a silver and a bronze in the 1974 and 1970 games, respectively.

In this century, Kerala’s Renjith Maheshwari and Punjab’s Arpinder Singh won the bronze in the 2010 and 2104 editions, respectively.