Shaili Singh may be just 17 but her coach Robert Bobby George feels that she has a mature head on her young shoulders.
“She may be just a teen but she has the spirit and determination of an adult,” said Bobby from Nairobi on Sunday night after Shaili's under-20 Worlds long jump silver.
“She will rule the international circuit for the next 10 to 12 years.”
The last one and half years had been tough ones for athletes owing to the global pandemic.
And Bobby, now the only Indian coach to have produced two World championship medal winners – his wife Anju George is the other with her 2003 Worlds long jump bronze in Paris – revealed that he had made a runway and dug out a pit for Shaili to train since stadiums were closed.
“We had taken a risk then but all those efforts have given us this silver.”
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A lot of major events are lined up next year, including the Worlds, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and Bobby feels that Shaili is capable of winning medals at the CWG and Asiad.
Since Shaili is very young, Bobby explained that he had to handle her with a lot of care.
“Once she is 18, we can start pushing her more, she will be capable of taking more load during training,” he said. “She is surely capable of doing a seven-metre jump in the next few years.”
That would mean breaking Anju's national record of 6.83m. Meanwhile in Bengaluru, watching Shaili, Anju went through a range of emotions.
“When she was on the runway, I felt that I was doing the jumps,” said Anju.
“She needs to learn a lot, there are a lot of corrections we need to do and she is still in the learning process, but her style of running and jumping is similar to mine.”
Meanwhile Adille Sumariwalla, the president of the Athletics Federation of India, was happy that all the work the federation had put in was now paying rewards.
“Overall we had a very good championship, first time we won three medals. And there were some close misses too, where we missed the bronze,” he said.
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