BENGALURU: The Asian Athletics Championships in Doha saw an unfamiliar sight. Jinson Johnson, India’s premier middle-distance runner, could not finish the 800m final after suffering a calf injury. There was more disappointment in store for the Kerala athlete as he was forced to skip the 1500m competition. Such things are a part and parcel for athletes, but things are only going to get difficult for the 28-year-old, who now wants to focus on the 2020 Olympics.
Him preferring the Olympics over the World Championships, is understandable. Johnson, who is at SAI, Bengaluru for a training camp, is yet to hit top gear in terms of his fitness. Hence, he does not have much time to prepare for the Worlds slated for Doha in September-October. However, Tokyo, more than a year away, is an attainable dream according to Johnson who spoke to select journalists at a promotional event here on Tuesday.
“Right now my focus is the Olympics. I’m not majorly targeting the World Championships because there’s still some strengthening work left. And it’s difficult to keep up both 800m as well as 1500m,” he said. The Asian Games gold medallist will be focusing more on the 1500m to make the Tokyo bus. “So rather than splitting focus, I thought it would make sense to focus on one, which will help me do well,” he said.
The ticket to Tokyo, however, is an uphill task. If the 1500m qualification for 2016 Olympics stood at 3:36:20, it has fallen down to 3:35:00 for the next edition. The Olympic qualification period opened on May 1 and it would take something special for Johnson to achieve the qualification mark. The 1500m national record holder (3:37.86) will have to improve his timing by almost three seconds in the next one year or so.
“To set a fresh record of 3:35.00, I will have to train a lot and put in a lot of preparation. I have to go from 3:37 to 3:35. Cutting two seconds (2.86 seconds to be precise) is going to be tough. Having competed at an Olympics (800m, Rio 2016) has given me a first-hand feel of the level of competition. My main target is to qualify for the Olympics.”
Even though Johnson isn’t sure about taking part in international events this year — he said that was the federation’s call — he was positive about taking part in domestic meets. “I will participate in domestic events like the inter-state championships, Federation Cup and the Open Nationals,” he concluded.