MP Jabir would make history as the first indian male to participate in 400 meter hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics, held next month. Prior to this, PT Usha, the legendary athlete from Kerala, was the only Indian to compete in the same category for females at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.
Despite not being able to qualify with a time of 48.09s, the 25 year old Naval Officer secured the ticket to his Olympic dream through his ranking in the World Athletics’ path to Olympics, where he is currently in the 25th position, according to their official website.
MP Jabir, who hails from Malappuram district, Kerala, self-realised his talent in hurdle races as a youngster competing in State level competitions. He first won a gold medal at the state level in the 400m hurdles for Panthallur HSS at the Kerala State Interschool Sports Meet back in 2013. Joining Grade 12 at Thavanur Kelappan Memorial Vocational Higher Secondary School, which is part of the Professional Sports Academy, was a turning point for Jabir. During this time frame, he accomplished numerous achievements in school meets and competitions, then went on to join the Indian Navy in 2015.
Due to the Pandemic, the last time Jabir was able to participate in competitions was back in 2019, this 2 year setback cost him a few spots of his World Athletes ranking, but he was able to sustain his position amongst the top 30 athletes in his category.
He won a bronze medal for India at the Asian Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar in 2017 and Doha in 2019. In Doha, the qualifying time for the Olympics was 49.13s. He also became the first ever Indian to reach the semi-finals of the 2019 World Championships in Doha. Jabir, who qualified for the Olympics after KT Irfan from the Malappuram district, is a Petty Officer in the Kochi Southern Naval Command.
The athlete is ecstatic about being able to represent India in the Olympics.
“When I came to know that I qualified, I felt very proud. This is the result of both the prayers of my family, and my efforts. The sole goal is to put out a great performance at the Olympics, Finishing the hurdles within 48 seconds would allow me to qualify for the Finals.”, Jabir said.
He has been strenuously training, for about 6 hours daily, to help him achieve this goal.
“For the past seven years, the focus has been on hurdles. The training is being conducted under the tutelage of American coach Jelena. Every effort is made to improve my timing for the Olympics.”, he added.
MP Jabir did not have anyone to look up to, he self-realised his talent from a young age after winning continuously in sports competitions. His determined effort and hard work on his talent is what earned him a well deserved ticket to the olympics.