Part VII

During a visit to Progress-Promise on the morning of 14 November, Sudhahota offered Sri Chinmoy some coaching tips on how to improve his sprinting. This conversation then followed.

Sri Chinmoy: In your approach for the long jump, do you start slowly?

Sudhahota: You start slowly, then gradually speed up. Every step Coach Tellez wants faster. He wants it faster, faster, faster until you reach full speed, and then you hit the board. That's the idea he has — every step faster.

Sri Chinmoy: In the past, coaches used to advise the athletes to slow down the last two steps so that they could get a proper footing. What does your coach say?

Sudhahota: That's what the general idea was 10 years ago. About 60 percent of the long jumpers still feel this way today. But my coach says to tear all the way through it.

Sri Chinmoy: They say that before cats or other animals jump, they bend a little so they can go higher. But in order to bend, they have to slow down. That was the old theory. I am an old man, so I am telling you all old theories. But you are the young generation; you are discarding the old theories. The young generation has every right to discard old theories.

Sudhahota: That was the old way. But my coach and I believe that you should just run right off. In physics, most people think of height as very important. Well, I can sit here and I can throw a pencil straight up, and what does it do? It comes down! But if I throw this pencil at an angle, it goes far away. So what you want to do is keep the speed and keep the angle of take-off lower, so that you can go farther. Because if you try to go higher, you are going to use your energy to go up instead of out.

We have incorporated the laws of physics into long jumping. At a 22 or 23 degree angle we must leave the ground. We have calculated it to such an extent that if I'm going at a certain speed and I leave the ground at a 22 degree angle, then I know I will jump over 30 feet. But it's not easy, of course, to hit that particular angle.

The hitchkick is a continuation. What gets you into the air are your last four strides. Then you just keep going with the hitchkick. But if I were to just slow down and stop, then I couldn't finish it. It's not quick enough; I would stop here or I would stop with my feet straight down. The only way I can finish it is to just be very quick and keep running through — make my preparation and go. Then I can land correctly.

Sri Chinmoy: From one hitchkick during a jump it has come to two. The world is progressing. Would you try two and a half or three?

Sudhahota: I thought about doing three, but I would have to jump over 29 feet. So if I jump over 29 feet and feel comfortable, then I'll try. It will be like another challenge — to go one step farther. I am four and a quarter inches away from the world record now.

Sri Chinmoy: Buy a few records, then just break them. But don't break any of Narada's records!

Why do people accuse you of not working hard? There will always be people to criticise you. They say, "If he runs 200 metres he is a fool, because he will ruin his long jump." But they also criticise you if you don't run 200 metres. So no matter what you do, you can't please the critics.

Sudhahota: Most of the time they criticise me for not training hard. Compared to other athletes, I don't. I may do two 600s in a workout, whereas most of the athletes do three. I may do two 400s; most of the athletes do three. But Calvin Smith doesn't really train super hard most of the time, and I don't either. That's not to say that we're the best athletes. But I've only had one injury in my entire career outside of a knee problem, and I had that because I was still growing. Otherwise, I've only had one injury since 1969, and the reason is because I've rested my body.

Even if I'm in great shape, I don't want to risk injury. What I do is gradually go on, gradually go on. In this way I'm able to stay injury-free. That's the only way you can be number one — by staying injury-free. If you are hurt, you can't run — no matter how talented you are. I get criticism for not training hard. But I've run as fast as anybody, and I've not gotten injured. So I think that's the real correct trade-off.

Sri Chinmoy: Nowadays you are not planning to run many races.

Sudhahota: Right! When I was in college, I ran tons of races — four or five races a meet. I ran 33 track meets in my last year at the university. Two years ago, the first year that I didn't run for my school, I cut it down to 24 meets. Last year it was 18 meets. I had my best performances this year, with fewer meets. So it's a matter of what is correct for you. If you believe in yourself and know, "I can do it if I train six weeks," then that's all you need.

Sri Chinmoy: As long as your confidence is always at the highest, whether you run one race or 10 races doesn't matter. Even after only one practice when there is a serious meet, you can do well.

Sudhahota: Right! For instance, I ran our nationals; then I ran only one more meet before Helsinki, which was then six weeks away. After that I took five weeks off. Most people thought that was deadly, but I knew what I was doing. In Helsinki I was rested and mentally ready, whereas a lot of people were tired. They didn't want to take chances and they didn't run as hard. But I could do what I wanted to do. I was very much at ease because I had the confidence. I knew I was rested because I hadn't been competing, and I was ready to run.

Sri Chinmoy: In the relay you take the last leg, the anchor.

Sudhahota: Yes, I have a strong finish. In the 400-metre relay, they always put me in the anchor leg, so if we're ever behind I can make up for it. They always put Calvin third because he runs a good turn. If Calvin and I make the team, we're always third and anchor. It's good, because Calvin and I have been on six teams together, and we know each other. We could be dead last and still win because I know Calvin can catch five, six or seven people on his turn alone, and I know I can make up the rest. So it's good to have him there

Sri Chinmoy: So everything changes! The old theory, 40 years ago, was that the third runner should be the weakest. They felt the first person should be the second best, while absolutely the best runner should be the last. But now you are learning everything different. The other day a Canadian coach was saying that the best runner should be first. His theory is that if the first runner can get a one or two-metre lead, then the other team members will get confidence and be able to win. But if the first person is not the fastest, then your confidence may go away and who knows what will happen.

Sudhahota: Selecting a national team for us was easy, because Calvin Smith and Emmit King were on the same college team. If Calvin runs on the moon, he'll run third. So I'm talking about anywhere! What we did was to run Emmit first. In a way we were incorporating the Canadian coach's theory by having the best person for the first leg run first. I'm faster than Emmit, but Emmit will beat me on the turn every single time because I'm taller. I'm not used to running the turn, and I'm not as comfortable in it. I like to run the straightaway. So even though I can run faster, technically Emmit would come first because he is better at the turn. It's that type of thing. That's why I like to run anchor, or even second.

Sri Chinmoy: You are a vast ocean of knowledge. I am very proud of you. All the world's theories, how nicely you have discarded. And you have done so most effectively! The old must give way to the new. There is great joy in this. The old theories you have studied, but now you see that they are of no avail. Everybody is progressing and progressing, so the new theories are bound to be better than the old ones.

I am so grateful to you and so proud of you. Now I will try my best to be a very devoted student of yours — not like I was with my German coach.