Fruit juice parties, no TV after 11pm, social media restrictions, a brilliant student: the life of a perfect child Sreeeshankar Murali

If there’s one thing Sreeeshankar Murali has proven by winning a historic silver medal in the CWG, it’s that nice guys don’t finish in the end. The 23-year-old from Kerala’s Palakkad district became the second and only man long jumper from the country to win the CWG medal with the best effort of 8.08m in Birmingham on Thursday.

The wire-framed jumper and always smiling (not during training or competition) is one of the friendliest athletes in the ring. From top stars like Neeraj Chopra to budding athletes and even ex-players, Sreeshankar or Shanku as his loved ones like to call him, has gained fans due to his warm personality, dedication and focus.

“We are fortunate to have a son like Shanku. He is so humble and respectful to everyone and that is why he has come so far. He has been like that since school. We never had a problem with him,” says mum KS Bijimol, a former 800m runner.

Father and coach Murali echoes Bijmol’s view, almost painting a saint portrait of Srishankar, India’s best long jump from a distance. “He doesn’t shy away from hard work. He never finds excuses or shortcuts. I rarely have to raise my voice toward him,” says Murali. But there is one habit of Srishankar that annoys Coach Moral.

“He doesn’t like any kind of music during training. He hates it. If I reach for my phone to play something during training, he will yell at me,” says Srishankar. Banning music during training is an unofficial rule imposed by Sreeshankar who followed the advice of his parents for years.

ADVERTISEMENT

There is a strict “no TV after 11” rule that applies to all family members.

He was only allowed to join Facebook and use WhatsApp after he turned 18 and Instagram much later. Sreeeshankar has never made a fuss about these restrictions, and in fact believes that they have helped him focus better on the sport. “My dad knows what’s best for me,” he says.

Sreeeshankar with his family. (Express Photo)
Another thing his father strongly believes in is giving priority to studies. Sreeeshankar, despite his busy schedule, did not let his academic grades go down. He carries his study materials wherever he goes to compete. Murali proudly lists his grades 10 and 12 scores, all above the 95% mark.

In the NEET exams, he ranked second in his state in math classes and got engineering on the basis of pure merit. His NEET scores would have earned him a medical seat in any leading college in Kerala. But Sreeeshankar had other plans and chose to earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics instead.

“Many of my friends who were in athletics with me are now unemployed. He should focus on his studies as well to ensure a secure future. This is how you work in India,” says Murali.

Apart from being an exemplary son, Sister Sreeparvathy says Sreeparvathy is an annoying but very caring older brother. “He never quarrels with anyone, at home or abroad, apart from me. We only have silly arguments about brotherhood, but he is very nice to me,” says Sriparvathi who moved to Trivandrum earlier this year to pursue medicine.

Sreeeshankar, even before the CWG win, has a huge fan following including many of his fellow Sreeparvathy medical school. “We watch all his events together. He calls me on video sometimes and says hi to my friends too. Because of him, I became popular,” she says.

When Sreeeshankar finds time between competitions, he likes to “celebrate” with friends. “Just get together and have some snacks and fruit juice. Some of my friends are drinking and smoking but they didn’t call me for such gatherings because they know I won’t come. Even when I throw a party there is no alcohol at all. Never never,” Srishankar said in a detailed explanation of what it means. Party in his dictionary.