Usha: Jisna capable of running close to Rio time

"Jisna has it in her to run the 400m in the 52.40s to 52.60 range this season. In fact, she is capable of going very close to the Olympic qualifying time of 52.20s but we wouldn’t be pushing her," said coach P.T. Usha

There was none to push Jisna Mathew at the recent Asian juniors in Vietnam where she won the gold in 53.85s with the silver medallist, China’s Guifen Huang, more than a second behind.   -  K. Ragesh

She may be the Asian junior 400m champion and may have helped the Indian women’s mile relay team to an impressive time at last year’s Beijing Worlds but Jisna Mathew is not exactly targeting the Rio Olympics qualifying mark in the one-lapper.

“Jisna has it in her to run the 400m in the 52.40s to 52.60 range this season. In fact, she is capable of going very close to the Olympic qualifying time of 52.20s but we wouldn’t be pushing her,” said P.T. Usha, Jisna’s coach, from Prague.

FOCUS ON JUNIOR WORLDS

“She’s just 17 now, she has a lot of time. Instead, I want her to focus on next month’s World junior championships (at Bydgoszcz, Poland, from July 19). I think she is capable of winning a medal there.”

That may sound overambitious but Jisna has constantly been churning out some stunning timings.

In Samoa last year, Jisna won the silver at the Commonwealth Youth Games in 53.14s. That time was the 12th fastest in the world in her age group last year.

Even before that, her impressive performances had brought her a berth in the silver-winning Indian women’s relay team for the Asian championship in Wuhan and World championships in Beijing. She was also a silver medallist at the Asian youth championship in Doha last year with the Nigeria-born gold medallist Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain going on to win the under-18 World title in Colombia a few weeks later.

TOUGH TASK

But life will not be easy for the girl from Kannur’s Alakode village at next month’s under-20 Worlds in Poland. There are eight girls who have gone below 52.50s in the under-20 world list this year with Jamaican Junelle Bromfield on top of the bunch with 51.74s.

With this in mind, Usha now wants Jisna to have some quality international competition before the Poland Worlds.

“We will try to get her at least one good international race before the junior Worlds,” she said.

There was none to push Jisna at the recent Asian juniors in Vietnam where she won the gold in 53.85s with the silver medallist, China’s Guifen Huang, more than a second behind. Even in the 4x400m relay, which brought Jisna her second gold, the Indian girls were far ahead of the second-placed Vietnam.

HOT RACE FOR RELAY BERTHS

A good performance in Poland should make the race for Rio berths in the Indian women’s 4x400m relay team that much hotter.

Almost ten girls are vying for berths in the relay team for the Olympics and the next few weeks promise to be very interesting ones.

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