At 34 and in the twilight zone, all that is left for Sreejesh is to tick a couple of boxes in a career that has been filled with numerous ups and a few downs
PR Sreejesh feels his chequered international career resembles Malayali staple ‘Avial’—a mixed curry of 13 vegetables.
At 34 and in the twilight zone, all that is left for Sreejesh is to tick a couple of boxes in a career that has been filled with numerous ups and a few downs.
A second Olympic medal wrapped around his neck with the Eiffel Tower looming over him is an ultimate dream but for now, he wants to be that safe check-post in what will be his third and last Commonwealth Games.
Highs and lows
“The life was always not the same. It was always full of ups and downs. I had some really good matches as well some real bad outings. I had a bad start to my career, then gradually, I have risen up the ranks to become India’s No.1 keeper,” Sreejesh told PTI in an interview. “From witnessing the low of 2012 London Olympics to winning bronze in Tokyo, in between I captained the national team and then in 2018, my career was almost over due to an ACL [Anterior Cruciate Ligament] injury. In Kerala, we have a famous dish called ‘avial’. It’s a 13-vegetable curry. I can relate my career to avial.”
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At the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Sreejesh starred in Indian’s gold medal win, when he saved two attempts in a shoot-out against Pakistan in the final. At the 2014 and 2018 Champions Trophy, he was adjudged “Goalkeeper of the Tournament”.
At this stage of his career, Sreejesh prefers short targets. “As a youngster, I always used to plan for four years. Now, I always prefer short-term goals. My priority is CWG, then my next step is World Cup. When you are keeping short targets that always helps you to focus more on your performance, fitness and mental strength.”
‘Paris Olympics feasible’
So he basically plans to carry on till the Paris Olympics. “Looking forward, Paris is feasible. I can see the Eiffel Tower but that road is not going to be easy. I believe these small steps will help me reach there,” the lanky goalkeeper said.
“Another CWG is a tricky one because in another four years, I don’t think I will be able to sustain [my fitness] but who knows there you can see me as a coach.”
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