Mayookha leaps to gold

Indian long-jumper sets national indoor mark

Indian champion Mayookha Johny crowned her three-month training stint in Germany with a gold medal and a national indoor record in long jump at an international meeting in Ludwigshafen on Saturday.

Mayookha Johny

Mayookha leapt to 6.44 metres to better Anju Bobby George’s nine-year-old mark of 6.40 metres, while also setting a meeting record in the process.

It was Mayookha’s third competition during her stay in Berlin, where she underwent training under German coach George Ramlow.

In two previous competitions, the Indian champion had recorded 6.38 metres to win a regional competition at Potsdam on January 22 and cleared 6.37 to come third at the Northern German Championships at Hamburg on February 4.

“I took part in these competitions to assess where I stood at this point in my training programme. I am really happy that I could break the national record on the way,” said Mayookha.

“It has been a tough but rewarding programme so far,” said the 23-year-old, who left for Berlin along with her coach GR Syam Kumar on November 25 last year. “The weather is below zero degrees Celsius but we are not affected by that as we train indoors. We have a few more sessions left before I return next Sunday.”

Mayookha has already qualified for the Olympic Games in triple jump with her national record of 14.11 metres but a mark in long jump (6.65) has eluded her so far. Syam expressed confidence that she will cross that in good time but stressed that it was not the focus during this tour.

“Our focus was on improving her technique and we still have some way to go. She is working on her approach and take-off, and it will take some time before everything falls in place. It’s nice that we have made a good start with a season’s best,” said Syam.

Mayookha finished ahead of veteran German Bianca Kappler (6.41) and Michaela Egger (5.89) of Austria. She broke the national record with her first jump of 6.41 and had a series of 6.38, 6.44, 6.41, 6.28 and 6.41 in her subsequent efforts.

After returning home, Mayookha is expected to head for the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey (March 9-11), even though she hasn’t attained the qualification mark of 6.65 metres, as a country can field one non-qualified athlete if it doesn’t have any athlete holding a qualification mark. “We will take it as a part of the preparatory programme. Right now, our goals go well beyond that,” said Syam.

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