Jyothi Yarraji, who broke the women’s 100 m hurdles national record thrice in the span of three weeks during the recent exposure trip to Europe, is now gunning for glory in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
Defying early, acute hardship, the 22-year-old Jyothi, daughter of a private security guard Suryanarayana who first won gold in the AP inter-district meet in 2015, never really looked back, winning medals in different age groups at the National level.
With a national record timing of 13.04 in the Harry Schulting Games (The Netherlands) last month, Jyothi said that the exposure trip, organised jointly by Reliance Foundation and the Odisha State Government, had given her a feel of what it means to be in the elite bracket at the international level.
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"I won't say that I am more confident of winning a gold in the CWG based on my performances in the European circuit, but I am more focused and know it better to raise the bar," she said in a chat with ‘The Hindu’ from Bhubaneswar where she is training at the Reliance Odisha Athletics High-Performance Centre.
The 5-foot, 9-inch tall athlete from Visakhapatnam, who also owes a lot to SAI athletics coach N. Ramesh as she was in the SAI Centre (Hyderabad) for three years till 2019, is now currently under the tutelage of Britain’s James Hillier, head coach of ROAHPC.
"Fortunately, he has a lot of faith in me. Always encourages me as he believes I have the basic speed, good mindset to compete, I am patient and hard working to keep improving," said Jyothi, who has applied for a job in the Railways.
For someone who had a comparatively smooth transition from the age groups to the seniors category, she won medals consistently once she developed a fascination for hurdles, because her PET at Port High School Krishna in Visakhapatnam felt she had the height to be good in the event, Jyothi had been catching the attention of one and all.
Interestingly, the BA student in History who missed in 2020 what could have been her first international meet, the South Asian Youth Games besides the indoor Asiad and the World University Games because of the pandemic, will be making her international debut in the next CWG.
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"Honestly, I am not tense but definitely excited. I look at it as the biggest, immediate challenge and one step forward to realising my ultimate goal of winning an Olympic medal," she said.
A huge fan of the great Usain Bolt and India's very own Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra in javelin, Jyothi said she had quite a few interactions with ‘Neeraj Bhayya’ when in the national camp.
" I admire his simplicity and the way he conducted himself in the camp," she said.
Thanking her seniors Gautam, Praveen and physio Nilesh Makwana who helped a speedy recovery from her recent hamstring injury for their constant support, Jyothi is now determined to carve her own space in the world of athletics.