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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Shaili Singh poised to leapfrog Anju Bobby George

Seeking global lift-off: The 19-year-old is focused on qualifying for August’s World Championships in Budapest. Her goals for the season include winning gold in the Asian Games and breaking into the World’s top 20. | Photo credit: K. Murali Kumar

In search of international lift-off: The 19-year-old is targeted on qualifying for August’s World Championships in Budapest. Her targets for the season embrace successful gold within the Asian Video games and breaking into the World’s high 20. | Picture credit score: Ok. Murali Kumar

Improved technique: Shaili has worked with coach Robert Bobby George on her posture and body positioning just before take-off. The changes have yielded results, with the young athlete consistently producing big jumps. | Photo credit: K. Murali Kumar K

Improved approach: Shaili has labored with coach Robert Bobby George on her posture and physique positioning simply earlier than take-off. The adjustments have yielded outcomes, with the younger athlete persistently producing large jumps. | Picture credit score: Ok. Murali Kumar Ok

Coach, mentor and protégé: Bobby George started working with Shaili when she was 14. He had begun coaching her mentor Anju when she was 21. | Photo credit: PTI

Coach, mentor and protégé: Bobby George began working with Shaili when she was 14. He had begun teaching her mentor Anju when she was 21. | Picture credit score: PTI

Was that seven metres?

That was the large query for a lot of as they watched younger lengthy jumper Shaili Singh produce an enormous leap on the Indian Grand Prix in Bengaluru final month. Actually, it did appear like the most important leap the nation had ever seen at house.

A few seconds later, to all people’s disappointment, the purple flag went up.

“Sure, it was 6.90-plus. It was very shut, a foul by a few centimetres. Even when she jumps 7m, it is not going to be a shock for me or Anju,” mentioned Robert Bobby George, the top coach on the Anju Bobby Excessive Efficiency Centre in Bengaluru, who has been teaching Shaili for the final 5 years.

This implies the 19-year-old could be very near Anju’s nationwide document (6.83m), set on the 2004 Athens Olympics in a fifth-place end. A 12 months earlier in Paris, Anju had received a medal (bronze) on the World Championships, the one Indian lady to attain this feat.

“Shaili can break the document any time, it is determined by the day and the temper. That is simply the season-opener, she had a great collection, the whole lot above 6.50,” mentioned Bobby.

Inside attain

Anju, whom Bobby had coached to the 2003 Worlds bronze and who’s now the mentor on the Anju Bobby HPC, is assured about it, too. “Shaili can break my document this 12 months itself,” mentioned Anju.

In reality, Bobby and his spouse Anju had felt that Shaili would break the nationwide document in Bengaluru that day. {The teenager}’s gold-winning leap measured 6.76m.

“Anju and I advised her that she needed to try to interrupt the nationwide document and qualify for the World Championships. That was my goal and he or she made a beautiful effort,” mentioned Bobby.

Nevertheless, though Shaili seems able to producing large jumps this season, Bobby shouldn’t be taking any probabilities.

The automated qualification customary for the Worlds, in Budapest from August 19, is 6.85m and the 12-month entry doorways shut on July 30. 

So Bobby is trying to find high quality competitions to make sure that Shaili makes the lower by way of the World rating route if she doesn’t make the automated customary. There are 36 lengthy leap slots accessible and Shaili is at present thirty ninth within the ‘Street to Budapest’ rankings.

With a watch on the Worlds berth, Shaili might be competing within the Seiko Golden Grand Prix — a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold occasion providing loads of rating factors — in Yokohama on Might 21.

Will probably be her worldwide outside season-opener, and it’ll carry again loads of recollections for Bobby and Anju.

Anju had received gold in the identical meet in 2004, a month after the Athens Olympics. She had shocked the then Olympic champion Tatyana Lebedeva and legendary two-time Olympic champion Heike Drechsler, who was in motion in considered one of her final competitions earlier than retiring.

“We are attempting for the Diamond League, solely one of the best get an entry there. She shouldn’t be there but, if she will get a great leap in Yokohama, it is going to be good,” mentioned Bobby who first noticed Shaili’s potential on the 2017 Junior Nationals in Guntur, the place she was fifth with 4.64m.

The younger woman, from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh the place her mom took to tailoring to maintain the house fires burning, is now No. 4 on this 12 months’s World checklist together with her 6.76m. She can also be Asia’s No. 1 feminine lengthy jumper and occupies the highest rung within the under-20 World checklist.

2023 targets

“The Asian Video games [Hangzhou, Sept. 2023] gold and sub-20 within the World rating are my targets for this 12 months,” mentioned Shaili.

Her development over the previous couple of years has been gorgeous. And Bobby attributes this 12 months’s large jumps to the adjustments he has made.

“There’s a paradigm shift in my coaching programme altogether and that is going to provide outcomes not just for Shaili however for the opposite athletes additionally,” he mentioned. “We’re specializing in key areas. Final 12 months, due to Shaili’s [back] harm I couldn’t do this. This time she was prepared.”

The Anju Bobby Centre now has its personal facility at Kengeri, the place the 11 SAI Nationwide Centre of Excellence athletes, who’re coached by Bobby, practice. They go to the SAI Centre for power and conditioning exercises.

“We’ve got shifted nearly all of our trainees to our new observe in Kengeri. That in itself offers a great benefit, it’s a kind of unique group observe, the atmosphere, mild, aroma, the color, the whole lot units the temper for coaching,” defined Bobby. “It imparts optimistic vibes each time and the athletes are extra relaxed.”

It is a setting that would throw up one other Olympic medal, both in Paris 2024 or in Los Angeles 2028. However the centre — the nation’s solely facility which has a World Championships medallist and the coach who produced that medallist coaching younger athletes — requires extra sponsors and funds, and shortly too, for high quality gear and manpower. 

Quick learner, powerful fighter

“The countdown has begun, we now have 14 months left for Paris. Shaili’s age is her main benefit. She’s a quick learner and a great fighter. However she’s nonetheless a child so far as the lengthy leap is anxious on the international degree. She is among the many youngest lengthy jumpers on the world degree the place you might have the mighty Individuals and Europeans. Nonetheless, that’s a bonus. She may have no worry and might be giving a scare to the others as she retains bettering,” mentioned Bobby.

Bobby has tinkered with Shaili’s approach and that might be a cause for the large jumps.

“I’ve made some adjustments in her approach, she was leaning too far backward and [causing] a hyper-extension of her again that led to accidents. So, I’ve made some corrections in her physique posture and within the physique positioning simply earlier than take-off,” he mentioned.

Anju is happy and proud that the expertise she and Bobby noticed and are moulding is now a nice, world-class athlete, one who seems to be able to bettering her mentor’s glowing document.

In reality, Shaili appears to be a little bit of Anju herself.

“This 12 months, Shaili’s velocity could be very near what Anju had in her prime. Her relative energy can also be considerably equal to Anju. Solely factor is, she has to stabilise her approach, get extra mature to get not only one leap and for that she has to do a collection of competitions,” mentioned Bobby.

“She has to prepare for all of the travelling, for competitions, for various time zones, totally different meals habits. After which after the competitors, when your enthusiasm dies, you must come again to competitions once more.

“She could break the document however it could take Shaili a few years extra to succeed in that stature…for the whole lot, understanding the sport and game-plan. However Shaili continues to be younger.”

Anju got here to Bobby at 21, Shaili is an early fowl. Bobby began coaching her at 14 and that’s an enormous benefit for the younger athlete. The lengthy leap, for positive, has many attention-grabbing days forward.

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