Jinson sets fresh targets after Doha setback

Jinson sets fresh targets after Doha setback

Jinson Johnson during the unveiling the Finisher Day T-Shirt in Bengaluru on Tuesday. DH Photo/ B H Shivakumar

Jinson Johnson is a bit downcast about the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha. India's premier middle-distance runner was competing in the 800m when a calf injury put paid to his competition. Jinson didn't even take to the tracks for the 1500m.

It hurt, he admits. Having almost always done well in international events, it's a new feeling for the 28-year-old.

"Of course you feel a bit (sad) but in sports ups and downs happen," Jinson said. "I've always done well in international competitions, so this was something new. In Commonwealth Games (2018) even if there was no medal I got the national record (in 1500m). In Asian Games I was successful (silver in 800m and gold in 1500m). Asian Championship 2015 in Wuhan I had a silver (800m) and in Bubaneshwar (2017) I got a bronze (800m). So it was a bit sad. There was a medal chance but these things happen. I will overcome it, no problem."

Speaking on the sidelines of the TCS World 10K 'Finisher's Day Tee' unveiling, Jinson, who holds the national record for both 800m and 1500m, revealed his focus is firmly set on the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and the 1500m event.

"I feel my performance is better in 1500m (than 800m) at the world level. Last Olympics, gold medal time was 3:50.00. Now, we can't expect that to happen again but, I feel more hopeful about this," he said. "Training has changed also. The distance is also almost double so there is differences in training. So rather than focus on both I hope focusing on one will be more helpful."

However the 1500m Olympic qualification mark, set at 3:35.00, looks a daunting task. Jinson, whose record stands at 3:37.86, has to cut over two seconds in the next one year. With a season best of 3:41.67, admittedly from the early part of the season and a small sample size, the task is even more arduous after his injury.

"It's a big target for me to qualify for Olympics. Even if I do qualify, anything can happen there because the race is very tactical. But, to set a national record to qualify for Olympics means you have to work very hard to achieve that. Cutting two seconds is very tough," he admitted.

He also remarked that the World Championship, at Doha in September, might be coming too soon for him.

"The focus is more on Olympics than World Championships because I'm coming back from injury. Not sure if there is enough time to prepare for it. I was doing high altitude training in Ooty. I have started jogging and strengthening. It's a muscle injury, it's not a major one and I am hoping to come back as quickly as possible. The federation will decide on which competitions we can take part abroad. So I am training for that. Inter-state, Indian Grand Prix and Open Nationals (will be main events) in India," said Jinson, who is currently training in Bengaluru.

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