Home News Pole Vaulter Yugendran finds Grand Prix success after overcoming adversities

Pole Vaulter Yugendran finds Grand Prix success after overcoming adversities


For R. Yugendran, who set the Grand Prix record of 5.20m in the men’s pole vault event at the second Indian Grand Prix of the season on Thursday, it was his first taste of major success.

Last year, Yugendran had set a personal best of 4.80m at the Tamil Nadu senior State championships. However, his progress was halted by an unfortunate accident near Vandalur on his way back from the competition. This forced him to take a five-month break from training.

Most of the tournaments that he participated in after he’d recovered from that injury were “washouts,” he said. What does he mean by that?

“I couldn’t clear any height in any attempt,” he said. “It’s always been like that. If I do six (athletic) meets in a year, at least four would be washout!” he added.

He said that he began as a pole vaulter at approximately 13 or 14 years of age and hasn’t had any success at the school and junior level. The first real performance has come at the senior State championships last year.

Hailing from Thiruvallur, the 20-year-old athlete faces financial constraints. His mother works as a sweeper, and he pursued his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at Madras Christian College (MCC) while working part-time as a “hotel labourer” until four months ago. He currently resides in the college hostel.

“Nehru stadium is my home ground. To train at the stadium, I have to wake up at 3.30 or 4 in the morning, so that I can reach here by 6.30. I’m my own dietician.

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“I left my job because it was becoming hard for me to manage – to work from 6-10 p.m. and then wake up early in the morning. Whatever money I earned, I used it for nutritious food intake. But now, I’m cautious about spending for food. I’d taken loans through mobile apps to prepare well for an u-23 tournament where I couldn’t do well.”

He said that his mother’s presence at the stadium on Thursday motivated him to perform well.

Yugendran, who trains with Deaflympics medallist Gerald Wilcox, used to train with Gerald’s father Don Wilcox before he passed away due to COVID-19 in 2021.

“He (Don) was like father to me! He helped me with my diet, bought me dresses, and even used to pick me up from and drop me back at home for training and competitions. After his demise, my present coach took me under his wings,” he said.

Yugendran is now looking forward to doing well at the senior State championships in Trichy next month. He attempts 5.35m in practice, but his big goal is to scale 5.40m. That’s what his coach has set for him as the big target.

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