Sixteen-year-old triple jumper Vishal Mor remembers the out-of-the-blue phone call his family received from his father on the evening of February 14. Rajvir Singh Mor, an assistant sub-inspector with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), does not use Whatsapp and calls home are few and far between because of network issues in Pulwama, where he has been posted for nearly a year.
The Mor family has been on tenterhooks since Rajvir took up his latest posting in Jammu and Kashmir. The family, based in Bass Badshahpur village in Hisar, heaved a sigh of relief when Rajvir informed them in the same breath that he was 'very disturbed' by the death of his colleagues, but safe. Vishal remembers switching on the television and following the news of the CRPF personnel killed in the suicide bomb attack on Valentine's Day.
"The image of the mangled bus, which was shown on news channels and published in next day's newspapers, still haunts me," Vishal, the bronze medallist in boys' (Under-18) triple jump at the Asian Youth Championships, said.
Mor has been unable to get in touch his his father after winning the biggest medal of his life at the championships, which concluded in Hong Kong on Sunday. He has been Whatsapping pictures of himself on the podium, with the tricolour wrapped around him. The frame includes Chinese Taipei's Chen-Yin Sheng and China's Junhui Wu, the best jumpers in the Under-18 category in the continent.
On the phone call before boarding the flight back home, Vishal sounds a tad disappointed. He is livid at only managing 15.09 metres, down from his personal best of 15.15 metres. The other regret is not being able to break the good news to his father.
"My family has informed my father about me winning bronze at the Asian Youth event. I have not been able to call him because he does not have Whatsapp. As I am abroad, I have to use this calling service to reach people back home. My father is not on it. Hopefully, I will talk to him in a day or two. It's not easy to reach him because of where he is posted," Mor said on Monday.
On the day of the attack, soon after Vishal had returned from practice at the Haryana Agricultural University grounds, his father had called from Pulwama. "I was at training so I didn't hear about the attack. But since we know where my father is posted, it is only natural to be worried. I was devastated that so many of my father's colleagues were killed," Vishal added.
Being able to pose with the Indian flag after winning the bronze was a moment of pride for Vishal, but he knows he has to put in the hard yards in order to replicate the success at the senior level.
"I could have done better. I am not trying to give excuses but not even in one of my six jumps, my take-off foot got close to the board. I lost a few centimeters because of this. It was raining so I was a little circumspect."
Vishal started with 14.40m and maxed in his fifth attempt with 15.09. "I didn't participate in Khelo India as I was focused on the Asian Youth Olympics. I wish I had bettered my personal best, it would have earned me the gold."