The highlight of last week's State senior and youth athletics meet in Kochi was Jessy Joseph's record-breaking effort in the girls' 800m.
She improved her own meet record by eight seconds, set a year ago, but more importantly, her timing was faster than that of the 800m winner in the senior women's meet, which was held simultaneously.
“That is what mattered more to me,” Jessy's coach P.T. Usha told The Hindu on Sunday. “It is a significant feat, not something you see everyday on our tracks.”
The former track queen added that Jessy is on the right track. “Her performance in Kochi is a big leap forward for her,” she said. “She beat her nearest rival, R.V. Sanjana, another ward of mine, by more than 100m. Jessy has never run like that; she used to do only enough on the track to win.”
Jessy, however, will miss the Asian junior meet to be held in Colombo from June 9.
“She has strained her muscles while training after the Kochi meet and I thought there was no need to take a chance by sending her for the Asian juniors,” Usha said.
“She is just 16, so she has another four years left in that competition. Jessy's timings are faster than Tintu Luka at the same age; I have high expectations about her.”
Usha is happy that athletes like Jessy have begun to prove that the Usha School of Athletics is not just about Tintu.
“Shaharbana Sidhique is another girl who is improving fast, like Jessy,” Usha said. “She is a fine prospect in the 200m and 400m. she is just 13, but strong and tall. The girl could go a long way.”
Tintu to run in Turin
Usha said Tintu's preparations for the Olympics were on track too.
“Her next event is the Memorial Primo Nebiolo meet in Turin, Italy, from June 8,” she said. “It is a meet featuring top performers and is part of the European athletics outdoor premium meetings series.
“Competing in Italy would also help her acclimatise better for the Olympics in London,” she added.