: Soon after running a comfortable victory, with a meet record, in the under-18 girls’ 800m on Friday, Jessy Joseph rushed to grab a towel to cover her head.
The 56th Kerala State junior athletics championship is currently on at the Maharaja’s Stadium here and Jessy, one of the country’s most talented juniors and coached by P.T. Usha, was forced to run the two-lapper on a hot and burning morning at 10 a.m.
On Saturday, National youth champion Nayana James and triple jump National youth and National junior inter-zone winner Jenimol Joy will feature in the under-18 girls’ long jump. With another quality jumper Athira Surendran also in the fray, the long jump is probably the championship’s premier event.
But surprisingly, once again, the event has been slotted for a 9 a.m. start.
“It would have been ideal to have it around 3 p.m., which could see the athletes at their best,” said Jose Mathew, former coach of Asian champion and Olympian Mayookha Johny, who now trains the trio at Thalassery SAI Centre. “Having a 9 a.m. start will mean that they will be jumping the final round around 10.30 a.m. It will be very hot; they will not be at their best.”
Kerala has some of the country’s best juniors. Almost every other event seems to have a National champion or medallist, but athletics almost always seems to have a problem of funds.
Perhaps, the Kerala State Athletics Association could try showcasing and marketing its athletes in a better way. Perhaps, it could offer the stars the evening’s ‘prime time’ slots to pull in bigger crowds and sponsors.
Thankachan Mathew, who coached Asian Games champion Preeja Sreedharan a few years ago, also feels that scheduling the glamour events in the evening would do the sport a lot of good.
“And of course, it will help our athletes perform better,” said Thankachan, who got the Kerala Sports Council’s Kayika Acharya Award two years ago.
The Kerala State Athletics Association responded positively to the suggestion of offering the championship’s prime time slot to the star athletes.
“That sort of thinking did not come in when we made the order of events, but perhaps we can think of it in future,” said M. Velayudhan Kutty, KSAA Secretary. “We have so many events, so many jumps on the same pits, but we can probably think on those lines from next year.”