She is fresh after a sterling show at the London Olympics, so all eyes are bound to be on Tintu Luka when she runs in next week’s National Open in Chennai.
But don’t look at her, says Tintu’s coach P.T. Usha.
“She will be doing just an ordinary timing in Chennai, of course she will be running ‘alone’ but it will be a relaxed run,” explains Usha. “Tintu has had months of strenuous training, so it will be a sort of resting phase for her.”
Instead, look behind Tintu. For, there will be another young star and this one will be running her heart out.
“Yes, I expect Jessy Joseph to run the 800m in 2:09 or 2:09.5 secs and better her personal best,” said Usha. “They will be running together for the first time… Tintu is 23 and Jessy is just 16, and since they are in different age-groups they haven’t had a chance to run in the same race earlier.”
Jessy, however, has faster plans on her mind. “I think I can do 2:08 by the end of this year, probably in the Open National,” said the Youth National champion, who clocked a personal best of 2:10.72s in Bangalore a few weeks ago.
The two Kerala girls, however, will be running for different teams.
Tintu, who joined the Railways four months ago, will be running for her employer in Chennai, while Jessy, who made her mark in the senior circuit with a silver at last year’s National Open, will be wearing a Kerala jersey.
Usha had tried for a Diamond League spot for Tintu in Friday’s van Damme Memorial Meet in Belgium and is disappointed that it did not materialise.
“She got two good races in the Olympics and was able to go under two minutes for the second time in her career and also clock a season best in London,” said the former Asian sprint queen. “And because of those two top-quality races, she would have even broken her own national record (1:59.17s), had she got a chance to run in Belgium.”