THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Call it as destiny or strategy! When OP Jaisha, the new hot property in long distance events for India, was cruising along in the 10000m of the 35th National Games, many were unaware that she was part of the team that won silver in 4x400m relay in the 2011 Kobe Asian Athletics Championships.
Jaisha, who ran for Kerala and bagged two gold in the 5000 and 10000m events here, ran the third lap in Kobe to win a creditable silver. But four years down the lane, Jaisha is spearheading India’s hope in the upcoming World Athletics Championship in the marathon.
The 21-year-old from Wayanad in Kerala, was advised by the middle and long-distance coach Nikolai Snesarev to switch to marathon as the event suited her pace and endurance.
“Though I had qualified for the World Championship in the 1500m and marathon, the coach told me to focus on marathon. I will be doing that only in the upcoming world championship,” Jaisha told TNIE.
Having already set a national record in her maiden marathon event with a time of 2:37.29, Jaisha is in no mood to be called an also-run in the Worlds. “Though the coach has set Olympics as my target, I am sure I can slice a good two to three minutes off my time in the Delhi marathon,” she pointed out.
Being an athlete who wanted to partake in the sprint events, it took a bit of coercion from the coach to make Jaisha focus on the marathon. That move, according to the athlete, has paid off.
“ Even while running 1500m, my split-time in 400m was good. It was under 55s. I knew I could bring it down to 53 or 52s but that won’t keep you in good stead in international meets. That’s why I decided to stick with long race,” she added.
Before joining Nikolai’s camp in March last year, Jaisha was training with her husband Gurmeet Singh.
In fact, it was the high altitude training under Gurmeet in Dharamsala that gave her the confidence to switch. “ My endurance was good because of high-altitude training and after training under Nikolai my fitness improved,’ she added.