Soaring high

Good show...Former National record-holder N. Annavi (middle) gives a few tips to Gayathri Sivakumar. Looking on is her coach Manoj T. Thomas.-VIPIN CHANDRAN Good show...Former National record-holder N. Annavi (middle) gives a few tips to Gayathri Sivakumar. Looking on is her coach Manoj T. Thomas.

Gayathri Sivakumar, who has a personal best of 1.60m which she achieved in the Kerala State Championship a few weeks ago, has now left her sister, who is three years her senior, far behind and the others in her age group too. A profile by Stan Rayan.

Gayathri Sivakumar was very surprised when she saw her older sister Pooja flying at a high jump event a few years ago. The little girl had been doing sport, sprints and long jump, right from the time she joined school but the high jump really swept her off her feet.

“I took to the high jump because of my sister, she was almost flying… I liked that part very much,” said the 12-year-old.

Little Gayathri also started competing in high jump events and she’s soaring high these days.

The other day, Gayathri broke the under-14 national record on her way to the gold at the 25th National Junior Inter-Zone Athletics Championship in Kochi with a 1.59m effort.

And she raised the record by seven centimetres!

“If she is properly trained, she will be another Bobby Aloysius (the former Asian women’ champion from Kerala),” said N. Annavi, the former SAF Games men’s champion who dominated the event a couple of decades ago.

Gayathri has high jump in her blood. Her mother Sheeba was a State champion in the event in her junior years. And she saw to it that both her daughters took to sport early, were regular for training sessions and did not skip meets.

Gayathri, who has a personal best of 1.60m which she achieved in the Kerala State Championship a few weeks ago, has now left her sister, who is three years her senior, far behind and the others in her age group too.

“I’m aiming for 1.70m this year,” said the young girl from Kochi who is coached by former Railway high jumper Manoj T. Thomas.

Gayathri adores Croatia’s former two-time World champion Blanka Vlasic and watches videos of her action frequently.

“I like her style… I try to do a similar curve,” she said. Among Indians, National record-holder Sahana Kumari is her favourite.

What is in her mind when she takes off for the jump?

“As I go, I tell myself, ‘I have to clear this, I have to clear this.’” And she does it, consistently.

And what makes her succeed? “It’s my lift.”

Annavi was impressed by Gayathri’s explosive power but feels that the young girl has to put on some more weight. And for those who were floored by her performance, he had a note of caution.

“She is very young, looks very promising but we have to watch her as she grows up,” said the Trichy-based former national record holder. “A lot of changes happen when girls grow up, when they mature. Predicting a girl’s performance will be better only after they cross 16 years. For, standardisation takes place after that. But her performance so far has been excellent. She has a lean body mass and if she maintains it, I am sure she could be someone better than Bobby. Bobby went up to only 1.90.”