‘Shaili Singh will be fighting for a Commonwealth Games medal’

Long jumper Shaili Singh is slowly getting back to her best and will peak around June-July, 2022, says her coach Robert Bobby George.

Shaili Singh will be back in action at the Indian Grand Prix-4 in Bhubaneswar on May 24.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

She was down with a back injury late last year and with Covid-19 in January but young long jumper Shaili Singh is now back and perhaps better than ever before.

“Her speed and strength have improved. It’s a big factor when your speed improves, your body is free, you benefit a lot,” said Robert Bobby George, Shaili’s coach, in a chat with Sportstar on Thursday.

“In fact, in the 30m sprint, she has already achieved the target I had set for her. Now, we have to convert that speed into her jumps. We are working on her rhythm right now.”

Nine months after she won the under-20 World championships silver (with 6.59m), Shaili will be back on a competition runway at the Indian Grand Prix-4 in Bhubaneswar on May 24. But don’t expect any major fireworks in the 18-year-old’s season opener.

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“She started jumping very late, only in April, so she should be in the 6.40m to 6.50 range,” said Bobby who is moulding the country’s most exciting talent in Bengaluru’s Anju Bobby Centre of Excellence.

“The peak will come in June-July.”

Hectic period

Though the Asian Games in China have been pushed to next year, June, July and August will be hectic months with domestic competitions followed by Junior Worlds, senior Worlds and Commonwealth Games. But Shaili will be focusing on the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“The Commonwealth and Junior Worlds are on the same dates (August first week) so right now, Commonwealth is our first priority,” said Bobby who coached his wife Anju to the long jump bronze at the 2003 Paris Worlds.

The qualification standard for the senior Worlds is 6.82m, a centimetre short of Anju’s national record, but Bobby made it clear that he will not be pushing Shaili to the target. “Not this year, if she goes to the Worlds by virtue of her world ranking it’s fine. Otherwise, we can’t say anything, there is no magic. 6.75 is my target this year, if you overstretch she can reach 6.80 but even then, those 2cms could be beyond our reach,” he said.

“We will be fighting for a Commonwealth medal. Many of the world’s best, including Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Nigerian Ese Brume (2021 world leader, 7.17m) will be there. Compared to that, the Asian Games should be a cake walk. The Commonwealth will almost be like World championships standard.”

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