CHENNAI: Injuries and comebacks are part of every athlete's career. A meticulous rehabilitation process, gradual training and the right time to get back into competition mode are some of the challenging aspects tackled by the athlete and his/her support staff. If you are a Shaili Singh, who trains at the Ajnu Bobby George Academy in Bengaluru, a coach would play a central role in making a decision in that process.
After almost nine months, Shaili hit the track at the Indian Grand Prix 4 in Bhubaneswar on a hot Tuesday evening. For a girl who won silver at the World Junior Athletics Championships in Nairobi last August with a jump of 6.59m, her best jump of 6.27m was quite modest. However, considering it as the beginning of her season, 6.27m could be counted as an aberration. She finished third behind Nayana James (6.37m) and Ancjy Sojan (6.35m). Her coach Robert Bobby George was not much worried.
Shaili was injured during the Junior Worlds and it took more than six months to recover. She started jumping only last month after her rehabilitation process was over. "We had to take it slow because of her injury and she started jumping last month," said Robert. The 18-year-old long-jumper hurt her hip during one of her jumps in Nairobi. But her third jump was enough to fetch the silver.
On Tuesday, Shaili's coach was expecting somewhere around 6.35m. He said that long jump is all about rhythm and sometimes you don't get into a rhythm that could propel the athlete to a longer distance. "I think she will need some more time and we will get back into the rhythm soon," he said. The Indian GP gave them an opportunity to evaluate, assess and work. The senior inter-state athletics event next month would be their next target. "She will improve by then," he said.
Another athlete, India's first Junior World Championships medallist two decades ago, was taking part in discus. At 38, moving those ageing limbs has got to be as challenging as hurling the discus beyond 60m. Seema Antil, multiple medallist at senior levels across Asian and Commonwealth Games, could manage only 53.57m. Her personal best is 63.72m.
Training without a coach has not been easy for Seema. "Even during the throw, I was struggling because if someone is there to show where I can improve it's always better," she said and despite all the experience, coach's contribution is important. "Hopefully, I can go to Russia soon," she said. Though she has qualified for the World Championships through entry standard last year, she said if she can't finish in the top 10, she would not prefer to go. "There is money for participation in Worlds, but for me more than money good performance matters," said Seema, who had been training in Delhi and finished behind Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (54.79m).
As of now, she is looking ahead to the season with hope. And Russia would be her first pit stop.
Select results: Men: Long jump: Muhammed Anees Yahiya 8.15m, Yugant Shekhar Singh 7.73m, Lalu Prasad Bhoi 7.58m. Javelin: Yashvir Singh 82.13m, Rohit Yadav 80.88m, Manu DP 77.66m.
Women: 100m hurdles: Srabani Nanda 11.87s, Rajashree Prasad 12.18s, Angel Silvia 12.39s. 400m: R Vithya Ramraj 53.95s, Vijayakumari GK 54.67s, Sonia Baishya 54.78s.