Jinson Johnson rues injury-forced absence from Asian C’ships

The 1,500m runner is disappointed to have “lost a good chance to finish on the podium at Doha,” and has set his sights on gaining an Olympic berth.

Jinson Johnson at the unveiling of the TCS World 10K finisher tee in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Photo: Special Arrangement

A calf injury robbed Jinson Johnson of the chance to shine in the men’s 1,500m event at the Asian Athletics Championships, held at Doha last month. The gold medal was won by Bahrain’s Abraham Kipchirchir in 3:42.85s.

It was not a particularly quick timing, a fact that irks Johnson. “I’d recorded 3:41.67s to win gold in the Federation Cup in March, so I feel that I lost a good chance to finish on the podium at Doha. It is disappointing, but I've moved on,” Johnson said, at the unveiling of the TCS World 10K finisher tee at ASICS store here on Tuesday.

Johnson stated that he may not regain full fitness in time to compete in the World Championships, which commences in September this year. The 28-year-old has his sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics instead.

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But this will be no mean feat, as the 2020 Olympic qualifying standard of 3:35.00s is incredibly tough. It is a full 15 seconds less than the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medal winning time set by Matthew Centrowitz, and also well under Johnson’s own national record mark of 3:37.86s (set in 2018 Commonwealth Games).

‘Big target’

“Earning an Olympic berth is a big target, but cutting (a little more than) two seconds off my personal best is very tough. I have to work very hard and diligently to achieve it,” Johnson said.

Asked about which international events he plans to enter in order to achieve the Olympic qualification standard, Johnson replied, “The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) will decide that. On the domestic front, I will take part in the Inter-State Championships and the Federation Cup.”

The Kerala runner, who also holds the 800m national record, explained that he has shifted his focus purely to the 1,500m event. “I feel my performances are better in 1,500m. Also, I feel it is better to focus and train for only one event. This increases my chances of doing well,” Johnson said.