At 193 cm, it’s little surprise that Nauraj Singh Randhawa is taking the high jump arena by storm.
Back in April, Nauraj set a new national record for high jump at the 2017 Singapore Open. After recording his personal best at 2.29 m in 2016, he took it up a notch to set the new record at 2.30 m at the 2017 Singapore Open.
Just over a week ago, the 25-year-old made national headlines again as won his his first European title in Barcelona. Nauraj bagged gold after clearing 2.21 m at the Barcelona International Athletics Championships.
— Nauraj Singh Randhawa OLY (@Navraj40) June 29, 2017
His victory at Barcelona sent Australia’s Brandon Starc to second place (2.15m) and Spain’s Miguel Angel Sancho Rubio to third place (2.11m). A few days later, he clinched his second European gold medal by clearing 2.21m to win the Memorial Cansino meet in Castellon.
Having said that, it is not fair to credit all his success and glory to his towering height, it is a combination of years of hard work, resilience, determination, and the will to make it.
However, starting out at the age of 9, Nauraj was more interested in sports like football, sepak takraw, running, and gymnastics.
It was his school PE (Physical Exercise) teacher who saw massive potential in that young boy and convinced him to switch to high jump instead. The rest, as they say, is history.
Despite his hectic schedule, Nauraj took time to speak to FourthOfficial.com to discuss his plans for the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, his knack for breaking records, and how he keeps everything in balance.
FO: First of all, Nauraj, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Nauraj: I’m a person with principals which I inherit a lot off my dad growing up (not as great as my dad but i do follow most of them). And I can be very superstitious about particular things, somethings just simply don’t change. haha. I have believes and I believe in God.
FO: How or when did you realise you had the knack for high jumps? Were you very active as a child?
Nauraj: High jumping goes back to primary school. At that time, I was 9 and I was more interested in sports like football and speak takraw and running and some form of gymnastics. But then after the age of 9, other students begin running faster than me. It was then that my PE teacher, En Syed Isa, convinced me to become a high jumper as I was obviously taller than all the other 9 year olds. That’s when high jump started.
FO: When did you decide pursue it professionally? Who was your biggest motivator?
Nauraj: I made my first MSSM (Malaysian Schools Sports Council) debut at the age of 15 and managed to win a bronze medal there. I also won a bronze the following year. At the MSSM, national junior coach from Uzbek, Alim Ahmedjanov potential in me and made necessary arrangements for me to gain a place in BJSS. So in August 2008, (I was 16 at this time) I took up an offer to move to Bukit Jalil and pursue my athletic career there, since things were not going well for me back in JB anyway. My parents, particularly my dad, had been my motivation.
FO: How did you balance all your training with your studies and social life?
Nauraj: It is definitely difficult to find the balance between studies and social life when you’re being trained as an athlete, especially when you’re trying to be a professional one. You can’t always have it all. There’s always going to be a time where you need to set priorities straight and do what’s best for that time. The circle of friends I have is only a handful, and they are mostly sports related people. As years went by, that circle became smaller. But being in sports gives me an opportunity to meet new and interesting people all around. As for now, I’m putting my studies on hold. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I would one day regret that I should have prioritised my sports more during the pinnacle years of my career.
FO: You also have knack for breaking records. Do you carefully plan it, or do you just give it your best and see what happens?
Nauraj: Personally to me a record is never owned. Its just a delusional mark which states a performance that others have yet to reach. Records don’t matter to me. What matters to me is progression. Progression which I make from year to year and that I’m constantly finding way and methods to simply be better than I was yesterday.
FO: Your current personal best is at 2.30m, which you set in Singapore. Do you intend to break that record in the 2017 SEA Games?
Nauraj: Yes I do intend to break that mark, but I dont know when or where is that going to be. I can’t focus on the outcome of a competition but what I can do is focus on the process that’s going to bring that outcome. I’m going to do my part right and find consistency and put in the work and effort. If i do these things well enough, the numbers will follow.
FO: How are you preparing for the SEA Games; are you training in Malaysia or outside?
Nauraj: Preparations are going as planned. My coach Alex Stewart has put in a plan for me for the entire season from last october and we are just following it. This year is a year filled with travelling and prior to 2017 KL SEA Games. I’ll make my first ever World Championships debut in London this August, and that’s the highlight of my season.
FO: Do you think you’ll get gold in the high jump events like you did in 2013 and 2015?
Nauraj: I believe there’s not a competitor in this world who walks into a competition without having eyes on the price. Everyone wants to win. High jump is very technical and it’s actually an event where anything can happen on the day. So it’s going to be a battle – may the best man win! But I can tell you this, Malaysia is going to be strong in high jump.
FO: Vanity test: Who is better? Navraj or Lee Hup Wei?
Nauraj: Well, we’re both good! Hup Wei has been my senior and idol since I joined BJSS in 2008. He’s taught me a lot throughout my career and he’s got heaps of experience.
FO: Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
Nauraj: Usain bolt. He’s a legend. Winning is easy, the tough part is keeping the momentum going. I’ve researched a lot about him, and learned what happens behind the scenes. We all see him as a champion but there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes, and I respect him for that.