When he was coaching at Thrissur's Vimala College some 25 years ago, T.P. Ouseph made it a habit of carrying a few books to his training sessions.
“Every day, he used to read athletics journals and coaching books to us and explain the science of sport. That used to be for some 30 minutes just before our training sessions,” said Anju Bobby George in a chat with Sportstar on Friday.
“He also explained how the Russians trained, how the others handled our event. There was no internet those days, even getting videos was rare.”
It took the girls some time to understand those lessons but it went a long way in making them the best in Asia and one even among the planet's best. It was Ouseph who introduced Anju, high jumper Bobby Aloysius and Lekha Thomas to the world.
Long jumper Anju – who was later coached by her husband Robert Bobby George – went on to win the country's first World championships medal (bronze, 2003, in Paris) while high jumper Bobby emerged as the Asian champion.
“There were times when Bobby, Lekha and I used to walk away with all the three long jump or triple jump medals at national championships. I was the youngest of the lot,” said Anju who also won gold medals in the Asian Games and Asian championships.
“And though he coached in a women's college (before becoming the national coach for jumps) and stayed there, he was neat and disciplined in his behaviour towards us. There has never been a complaint about him, we never felt uncomfortable when he coached us. He was almost like a fatherly figure. Of course, he used to lose his temper often and he was very famous for that.”
Bobby Aloysius feels that Ouseph is India's best-ever jumps coach in the women's section.
“And if you look at major events, his athletes have dominated the stage for nearly 15 years. He was the one who virtually introduced the fosbury flop in our country and found success with that,” said Bobby who held the women's national high jump record for many years.
“There were many who tried Fosbury flop but Ouseph's training helped me succeed. I won the Asian medal through Ouseph sir's efforts, not because I went to a foreign country to train. He has vast knowledge in high jump, he took it to a new level in our country. He was also the one who gave the crucial turning points in Anju's jumping career before she went on to win bigger medals with her husband Bobby George.”
Incidentally Ouseph, who now trains the talented Sandra Babu, has applied for the Dronacharya Award.
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