For Jyothi Yarraji, now is the time “to remember all those who helped” her scale the summit on the track and field as she prepares for her maiden Asian Games later this month in China where she will be competing in 100m hurdles and 200m events.
The 23-year-old Jyothi first wants to thank former Asian relay medallist H.M. Jyothi as the latter was the first to ‘mentor’ ever since she met her first in Guntur in 2018 and instil the belief that made the young athlete, six years ago, to look far beyond the inter-district meet performances.
“Jyothi akka is the biggest inspiration for me. I just can’t imagine what life would have been without her great support. I am always grateful to all those who helped me to come this far. Obviously, she had belief in my abilities before anyone else could even had a look at me,” she said in a chat with Sportstar from the ongoing national camp in Kerala.
“Yes, there are many and most notable are Ramesh sir (N. Ramesh of SAI, Hyderabad, in 2015) and the British coach James Hillier Miller at the Odisha Reliance Athletics High-Performance Centre in Bhubaneswar (where she moved in 2019), and all those fellow athletes and support staff who have been constantly reminding me about my ability to raise the bar,” she explained.
Interestingly, Jyothi said that she was yet to be satisfied with any of her performances. “I Just cannot say this or that has been my best. For I am not the one to sit back on the past achievements. Determined to record better timings every time I run,” she said with a big smile.
“Yes, in the Asian Games, the objective is to run fast and better my Asian performance. I have been working on some technical aspects to ensure the desired all-round improvement,” Jyothi said.
“Yes, my career-graph took an upswing after joining James Miller Sir. The reasons being he focussed on many aspects like posture, style of running, weight training and importantly worked a lot on mental and physical conditioning,” she said.
Brushing aside the disappointment of finishing seventh in the heats in the recent Worlds in Budapest where she clocked 13.05s, compared to her national record of 12.78s, Jyothi is now more focussed on the next big goal – winning a medal in the Asian Games.
“Honestly, I am not feeling any pressure as of now ahead of my maiden Asiad. Let me see how things shape up when we reach the venue. But, I am ready for any kind of challenges,” she said.
“I have to keep really working hard to realise the ultimate goal of making it to the 2024 Paris Olympics,” she added.
“Well, at the Asian Games the competition will be really tough and I am conscious of the need to raise the bar,” Jyothi said.
For someone who defied all odds with father Suryanarayana, working as a private security guard while her mother (now housewife) being a domestic help, Jyothi’s is one of the inspirational stories of Indian athletics itself.
“Honestly, I look at this Asiad as part of the bigger picture of making it to the Olympics. So, I look at every opportunity to keep improving,” she said.
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