Even a few months back, hardly anyone would have been even aware of Indian triple jumper Eldhose Paul. But within a span of few months, he has emerged as a force to reckon with in both Indian and world athletics.
On August 8, 2022, Eldhose Paul won India’s first gold medal in the men’s triple jump event at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. A few weeks earlier, Eldhose Paul created history by becoming the first Indian triple jumper to qualify for the World Athletics Championships final in Oregon.
In his mid-20s, the Kerala-based athlete may be considered a late bloomer. Eldhose Paul, for his part, credits his success to the years of persistence that preceded his triumphs.
“There was no magic spark or one big moment that put me here,” Eldhose Paul told Sportstar a day before winning the historic gold. “There were thousands of small things that I kept doing. All of that aligned together to get me where I am now.”
Where is Eldhose Paul from?
Eldhose Paul was born on November 7, 1996, in Kolenchery, a rural area 26 km away from Ernakulam city in Kerala. He lost his mother Mariakutty when he was just four.
Eldhose Paul and his younger brother Abin were looked after by their father Kochuthottathil Paulose, who worked as a daily-wage labourer. Their grandmother Mariyamma tried filling in the void left by their mother.
“It goes without saying that without her (Mariyamma), I would not be who I am today,” Eldhose Paul told Indian Express before making history at the CWG final. “She did everything that a mother does for a child all these years. She brought me up and taught me all the values in life.”
Eldhose Paul studied at Krishnan Elayath Memorial High School in Alangad. To support his ambitions, Eldhose Paul also took up odd jobs like roofing and rubber tapping outside his school hours.
Being average in studies and bright in sports, Eldhose Paul knew that he had to capitalise on his strengths if he was to secure a decent job.
Eldhose Paul started as a pole vaulter and even won medals at the school events. His exploits helped him get admission at the Mar Athanasius College in Kothamangalam under sports quota.
After switching to long jump and triple jump, Eldhose’s talent was then shaped by former national jumps coach TP Ouseph, who had helped the legendary Anju Bobby George and Bobby Aloysius achieve international success.
“Eldhose was a raw talent. When he joined the college under the sports quota, his maximum jump was around 13.40 metres - a distance achieved by women jumpers,” TP Ouseph told The New Indian Express.
Eldhose Paul later secured a job in the Indian Navy and represented Services in domestic competitions. However, the Indian triple jumper had not competed beyond the district level till the age of 19.
Eldhose Paul’s medals and achievements
Despite his relatively shorter height (5 feet 8 inches) compared to other triple jumpers, Eldhose Paul kept making gradual progress and managed podium finishes at the Services and state championships in 2018-19.
The much-awaited breakthrough arrived in 2021 with Eldhose Paul winning the gold medal in three Indian Grand Prix athletics events. He also won the national championships in Patiala to mark his maiden national title.
Eldhose Paul featured in his first competition outside India at Almaty in June 2022. Incidentally, it was his last-ditch effort to qualify for the world athletics championships in 2022 in Oregon.
Though Eldhose Paul clinched a silver and grabbed the final spot for the 32-man triple jump event at the world championships through rankings, the Kerala-based athlete had to run pillar to post to secure a US visa and only managed to fly to Oregon a day before the start of the competition, on July 14.
Without his coach Hari Krishnan, who couldn’t make it to Oregon due to visa issues, Eldhose Paul managed to beat the odds and become the first Indian triple jumper to qualify for the world championships finals.
Eldhose Paul, who posted a personal best jump of 16.99 metres at the Federation Cup earlier in 2022, managed a best jump of 16.68m to make the cut for the final.
The Indian triple jumper finished a commendable ninth among 12 world-class competitors with a 16.79m effort in the final.
Historic gold at Commonwealth Games 2022
At Birmingham 2022, Eldhose Paul, once again without his coach, had to overcome a poor start to clinch India’s first-ever gold in the men’s triple jump at the Commonwealth Games.
Paul had made a slow start with jumps of 14.62m and 16.30m in the first two rounds and was virtually out of medal contention. But his third jump was a game-changer as Eldhose Paul, for the first time in his career, crossed the 17-metre barrier to go on top of the table with a personal best 17.03m effort.
Abdulla Aboobacker’s 17.02m jump helped India secure a double-podium finish. Praveen Chithravel, the third Indian in the fray, finished a commendable fourth, with a best effort of 16.89m.
Before Birmingham, India had won only four medals in the triple jump at the Commonwealth Games. Mohinder Singh Gill won a bronze (1970) and silver (1974), national record holder Renjith Maheswary won a bronze (2010) and Arpinder Singh won a bronze (2014).
Eldhose Paul records
- First Indian to qualify for men’s triple jump finals at World Athletics Championships - Oregon 2022
- First Indian triple jumper to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games - Birmingham 2022
- Personal best - 17.03m at Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022