Jinson Johnson: full fitness first, Olympic qualification next

Jinson Johnson, 1500m runner, is all set to make his comeback from injuries, with the priority being to get completely fit first.

Jinson Johnson is raring to go after coming back from an injury spell. He is more cautious now though, with the Olympic qualifiers fast approaching.   -  M Vedhan

India's premier middle-distance runner Jinson Johnson is targeting a comeback in the next couple of months with his eyes firmly set on Olympic Qualification.

"I can't wait to get back on the track and I have completed my rehab. I have not set a particular date but in the next couple of months, I will be back. My goal is to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics," the 1500 metre specialist told Sportstar in an exclusive chat on Saturday.

Having suffered an injury to his Achilles heel tendon, the Asian Games gold medallist travelled to the Colorado Springs, training under Scott Simmons during his time there. However, the trip did more harm than good as the Kerala star ended up injuring both his tendons while abroad.

READ : India's best not good enough for Kerala

He later returned to India and began rehab at HN Reliance Foundation hospital in Mumbai. From jogging on anti-gravity treadmill to underwater training, a confident Jinson is now raring to go.  

"It was a difficult period, to be honest. But I did my rehab well and the support of the federation, family and friends was always there. I have just completed my rehab and I am trying to gain my form. Olympic qualification is around the end of June and that is my only goal now. I have recovered, but I have little pain in my left tendon. Maybe spending more time in the hospital can help that but it's time to train," he said.  

Breaking set times and records is not new for Jinson who broke the long-standing 800 metres national record of Sriram Singh in June 2018 when he clocked a time of 1:45.56s in the Inter State Senior Athletics Championships. Tokyo however, especially with 1500 metres as the discipline, has a different bar - a qualification time of 3:35.00s. Jinson's personal best in 3:35.34s.

When asked if he can bridge the gap and manage to get on the flight to Tokyo, Jinson said, "Of course I am confident. I believe that I can run below 3:34 but athletics is all about fitness. Currently, I am not able to run 3:35 so the target is to achieve full fitness and then focus on the timing. I am trying to come strong and federation will decide my training regime and other aspects and I am waiting for that," he said.

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"I've said this before and I'll say it again. The qualification mark for Tokyo is set at 3:35 but the gold in Rio came at 3:50! I need to get the basics right and soon I will be on the track," he added.

To further boost his training and performance, the army man insisted on adopting a strict routine. "It's important to stick to a routine and it's not that I wasn't doing it. But with the Olympics coming up, I want to give my best and I am willing to put in the hard yards. Only hard work can fetch results now," he said.