Jessy Joseph was beaming on Tuesday afternoon, at The Hindu office here, fatigue from a long air travel notwithstanding.
She had landed at the Calicut Airport a couple of hours earlier with two medals from the Asian junior athletics meet in Chinese Taipei. She is a tad disappointed though that the colour of both the medals is not golden — she came mighty close, but missed the gold by two-hundredth of a second in the 800m.
“Yes, it would have been great if I could win the gold, but I am happy nevertheless that I could get the silver in what was the toughest competition in my career so far,” said the 18-year-old. “I was determined to get a medal in the 800m at Taipei City.”
Her coach, P.T. Usha, said Jessy missed out on the gold because she did not judge the race correctly. “She should not have allowed as big a lead for Ryoko Hirano and should have accelerated a bit sooner, but she will learn from these mistakes,” said the former track queen. “It was still a fine performance by her, and I thought she was brilliant in the 4x400m relay. It was the superb races run by Jessy and Dutee Chand that gave India the gold.”
Usha feels India’s relay team, which also had V.V. Jisha and Vijaya Kumari, is quite promising. “Though Jessy’s strength is endurance, and not speed, she could be pretty good in 400m too, as she proved in Taipei,” she said. “It was good to see our girls winning the longer relay, something I had done quite a lot for India, along with a world-class team.”
Usha thinks Jessy is capable of winning a medal at the World junior championship, to be held in Eugene, the United States, next month. “Jessy wasn’t quite at her best in Taipei, as she had only recently recovered from plantar fasciitis, but she could still clock 2:06.77,” she said. “And she had run a personal best 2:06.34 at the Junior Federation Cup in Chennai last month. Yes, she is shaping up nicely, along my expectations.”
Usha is glad that the Usha School of Athletics, an academy she set up in 2002, continues to bring medals to India. The school’s most famous athlete, Tintu Luka, is the National record holder in 800m and had reached the semifinals of the London Olympics two years ago.
“And there are promising athletes coming up such as Abitha Mary Manuel and Jisna Mathew,” says Usha. “Running an academy of international quality like this is very difficult and we need support from the Government and corporate houses.”
Keywords: Asian junior athletics meet