P.M. Thabitha claimed her second gold in the Asian youth athletics championships in Hong Kong, winning the girls' long jump event (5.86m) on Saturday. The 17-year-old had clinched gold in the girls' 100m hurdles on Friday.
Her coach P. Nagarajan said they had aimed for her to cover more than six metres. "Her personal best is 5.94m achieved in the Tamil Nadu senior State championship last year. She had covered 5.92m in the youth Nationals in Raipur recently. I'm nevertheless very happy with her gold medal-winning performance."
Thabitha's father Philip Maheswaran, an auto driver, was naturally elated. He said she had told over phone, after winning her first gold on Friday, that she would win the long jump gold as well. "I'm very proud that my daughter's making our State and Nation proud," he added.
Thabitha is the third of the four children in her family. She has two elder sisters, and a younger brother who's also an athlete. "He focuses on hurdles and high jump," said Philip.
Philip added that Thabitha started training professionally when she was 12. "She had won the girls' 200m event in her school annual sports day. That inspired her to become a professional athlete.
"It was then that Nagarajan sir took her under his tutelage and she started training at the St. Joseph's Sports Academy. For the first three years, she kept training hard. Then, the medals started coming."
Nagarajan said Thabitha focuses on hurdles, long jump and triple jump.
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