Angel soaring to new heights

The high-jumper from Kerala shattered a 38-year-old record at the 50th Calicut University inter-collegiate athletics championships.

Angel P. Devasia has been making rapid progress in high jump.   -  K.Ragesh

Angel P. Devasia took to sports late, but she is more than making up for that with consistent results.

The 23-year-old high-jumper was adjudged the best female athlete at the 50th Calicut University inter-collegiate athletics championship, which concluded here on Wednesday. She had broken the 38-year-old record of Bobby Aloysius.

“I was happy that I could break the record of as fine an athlete as Bobby,” Angel told Sportstar. “I hadn't known that the record had belonged to her, though.”

Angel, representing Christ College (Irinjalakuda) erased the record comfortably enough, with a jump of 1.76m. Bobby's record had stood at 1.68m.

But, this wasn't Angel's best. She had cleared a height of 1.83m at the State senior championship at Thiruvananthapuram five months ago. Shortly after that meet, she had won the gold at the National Inter-State championship with a jump of 1.78m.

“Here I wasn't feeling well, as I am still recovering from an ankle injury, which has been troubling me for a year now,” said Angel, who recently moved to the LNCPE, Thiruvananthpauram, for training.

READ: Angel breaks high-jump record

Before that, she was working with Manoj T. Thomas in Kochi. “I have trained several fine jumpers, but I could confidently say that Angel is the most naturally talented that I have come across,” the coach said. “It is mainly because of her sheer talent that she has achieved this much. I have been able to work on her technique, which wasn't great when she came to me last year.”

Angel had come to athletics by accident. “When there was a test at my school, St. Thomas HSS, Erattayar (Idukki), I too took part,” she said. “My event was cross-country. I was studying at Plus Two then.”

When she joined Alphonsa College, Pala, the physical education teacher and respected coach Thankachan Mathew asked her to concentrate on heptathlon. Before long, she realised that her strength was high jump.

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That proved to be the right decision as she won the gold in her first ever State (Under-20) meet. She has made rapid progress since and has established herself as one of India's leading high-jumpers.

Angel wants to get better. “I want to represent India at international meets,” she said. “But for that we need specialised camps for high jump.”

Manoj feels Angel needs all the support. “She has the potential to clear 1.95m,” he said. “But she needs to work more on her technique and time is running out for her.”