Gunning for More
Published: 22nd April 2015 06:01 AM | Last Updated: 22nd April 2015 06:01 AM | A+A A-
Sweat from her face dripped into her red top as Aleesha P R stood on the synthetic track at the Maharaja’s College Stadium in Kochi on Monday.
On cue from her coach, Olympian Mercy Kuttan, she lunged forward and completed a crushing 3,000 m run — the third one within the hour.
Only that afternoon did she arrive in Kochi after travelling around 15 hours on a train from Goa. Still, Aleesha was on the ground in the evening for practise.
“I have barely got a month to bring my time under 10 minutes,” said the 16-year-old, who won a record 3,000m gold in the National Youth Athletics Championship in Goa.
Clocking in a rather moderate time of 10 minutes and 8.45 seconds, she was the first among the Kerala athletes to qualify for the Asian Youth meet to be held in Doha next month.
“I was supposed to have finished the race in Goa in under 10 minutes. I think I messed up my fitness because of the school exams and the subsequent holidays,” said the class-11 student of the Sacred Heart HSS in Thevara, who set her personal best of 10:00.99 in the junior state meet in Kochi last year.
If she clocks in a time below the 10 minute mark in Doha, Mercy Kuttan is sure Aleesha will come back with a medal and, possibly, a ticket to the world youth meet to be held in Columbia in July.
“One month is a good enough time for improvement and Aleesha has got the talent and strength to do it. We just have to take care of the few extra kilos she picked up at home during the holidays,” Mercy Kuttan said.
But she has to get her passport ready soon. We will have to run around for at least two days for it. Then, the national camp would start. I have certain reservations on how effective it would be for her ahead of the Doha meet. We will have to make do with whatever time we have got,” she said.
Hailing from a family in Vettilappara, Malappuram, Aleesha joined the Mercy Kuttan Athletics Academy in Kochi around four years ago. “She was not very impressive at the selection trials. I thought I should send her home but something made me take her in,” said the coach, who later discovered her talent in middle-distance race.
Within a year, she proved herself. She was the champion in the under-16 girl’s 1,500m at the school state meet in 2012. In the next year’s school meet, she debuted in the 3,000m and won a bronze along with the third position in the 1,500m race.
The same year, she clocked 10.36 minutes to finish first in the youth girls’ 3,000m event in the junior national meet. In the 2014 edition, she retained the 3,000m gold and improved the time to 10:11.96.
“Her resolve to give her 100 per cent in a competition is her biggest advantage. She is generally a bit lazy. I have to push her to do the practise every day. But in a competition, she is capable of being on her own,” Mercy Kuttan said. Like most of the athletes, Aleesha too is aiming for an Olympic glory. But that is a long-term goal. In the immediate future, she wants to be the fastest middle-distance runner in Kerala.