Jyothi, who trains at Odisha Reliance Foundation High-Performance Centre (HPC) at Bhubaneswar under head coach James Hillier, clocked 13.23 seconds in Cyprus on May 10, shattering the then national record of 13.38 seconds that was created in 2002. On May 22, she ran 13.11 seconds in the UK at the Loughborough International Athletics Meet, breaking the record she had just set in Cyprus; and followed it up on May 26 with 13.04 seconds clocking at the Harry Schulting Games in Vaught, Netherlands – her third gold and third national record in as many races.
Those two brilliant runs propelled Jyothi to the forefront as a medal contender when she takes to the track at the Alexander Stadium here for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Excerpts from an interview with India’s most promising hurdler:
Q: How do you analyse your preparations in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games?
A: The preparations were mainly focused on speed, balancing, staying injury free and continuing to do what has been working for me in the past that allows me to give my hundred per cent.
Q: Do you think you should have run some more international races before the Commonwealth Games?
A: Yes, it would have helped me hundred per cent in my preparation for CWG. Every competition is important because it helps me run faster. To run good timing is a gradual build-up and my body needs to adjust as well and go with the flow. The mind and body will adjust and as per that the performance will come. Every competition gives me a lot of experience and helps with improve my speed consistently.
Q: You have been training at Odisha Reliance Foundation Athletics High-Performance Centre under head coach James Hillier. How has training at the Reliance Odisha Athletics High-Performance Centre helped you?
A: The main pillar in my life is the Reliance Foundation HPC and it is because of their support that I have the chance to represent India. They have taken a lot of effort and care to support me including a monthly stipend along with spikes and kit, food and nutrition, gym and areas to practise, physiotherapy and recovery and also a lot of international opportunities to run in. They have helped me with overall development –including communication skills and soft skills to help me develop as a person holistically, and this is not just for me, but for everyone at the HPC, it is the same care and effort. In 2020, before I joined the HPC, I was injured, I wasn’t sure if I should continue running and then Coach James reached out to me, and explained the project and what is the vision of the HPC.
Q: How has coach James helped with the preparations and working with coach James?
A: Coach James and I have a very strong relationship. No one else other than the two of us knows the effort that we have put in together and the sacrifices that have been made. He understands my way of preparation and he has continued to help me and understands how my body reacts to the training modules and what I want he gives and what I am not comfortable in, he leaves it out. He is the perfect coach for me and he understands the situations and works to tailor plans according to what we both agree on. It’s not about coaching but being a mentor and Coach James is the best at that.
Q: How confident are you about winning a medal in the CWG 2022?
A: It is a big opportunity and I am looking forward to having a good and happy race. I don’t want to focus on what can go wrong, but I am looking at what all I can do right and give my hundred per cent.
Q: What is your ambition in sports and in life in general? Is there anything that you desire or want to get?
A: My first ambition is to participate in the Olympics and win a medal for India. When I began running, that was the spark that led me to continue to run. My second ambition is to get more young kids and girls to take up athletics as a sport. We have an abundance of talent in the country and I hope I can help in some way for others to realise their dream to represent the country. Athletics has given me so much joy and I would like to see many more people find joy in athletics.