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Aishwarya breaks the decade-old triple jump record at 14.14m

JUST a day after Aishwarya Babu recorded one of India’s best long jump distances, she returned to JLN Stadium to break a decade-old triple jump record with 14.14m on the board at the Inter-State Meet in Chennai. The athlete from Karnataka caused a stir herself in Sunday’s qualifying round with an impressive 6.73m, the best long jump mark on Indian soil since 2005.

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With the triple jump record sealed, her next goal is obvious. “I’m going to be aiming for the long jump record tomorrow,” said the diminutive, framed athlete, who is just over 5ft tall and will be targeting Anju Bobby George’s 6.83m. What she lacks in height she makes up for in speed and explosiveness off the board.

“She is a natural athlete. I firmly believe in strength and there is no lack of it. We have specific training routines that focus on strengthening her lower core,” says trainer Sri Aiyappa, who has been training Aishwayra for over two years now. Aishwarya had already finished at the Commonwealth Games triple jump with a jump of 13.94m in a Grand Prix in March. Monday’s effort erased Mayookha Johny’s 14.11 meter record set in 2011.

High drama expected in the finale

As she attempts to rewrite the legendary national mark of 6.83m (achieved at the Athens Olympics) on Tuesday, a familiar face will be watching intently from the stands. Her competitors in the final include Shaili Singh, who is coached by Anju’s husband Bobby, who led her to India’s only World Athletics Championships medal. Ancy Sojan, who was the best jumper of the season in India until Aishwarya surpassed her 6.55m mark, will also be there.

Coach Aiyappa, who last night predicted Aishwarya would break the triple jump mark, has absolutely no doubt his ward will take home two national records from this competition.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she even crosses the 7-meter mark,” says coach Aiyappa confidently. Reason for his optimism: the pattern: “If she jumps well in the triple jump, she does it well in the long jump. Today she jumped well in the triple jump, so I expect she’ll have the same energy from the blocks,” says Aiyappa, who coached the 2010 Asian Games bronze medalist in the heptathlon and his wife Pramila.

Aishwarya’s path to athletics didn’t start with jumping. After training as a junior sprinter, she quickly realized that she could use her natural speed better when jumping. “I got into the sport because I had this desire to achieve something in life. I’m so glad that my hard work is paying off now,” she said with a big smile after her victory in the triple jump, which is also her favorite jump, by the way.

Aishwarya’s path to athletics didn’t start with jumping. (Express photo by Andrew Amsan)

Aishwarya has also had her fair share of fights. A cruciate ligament rupture in her knee kept her out of competition for a whole year between 2018 and 2019. When the 24-year-old measured 13.94m in March, the doctor who operated on her saw the results in the newspapers and was impressed. “He couldn’t believe she recovered so well,” says Aiyaappa.

As Aiyappa is a personal trainer, access to Bengaluru’s Kantireeva Stadium was a major struggle, says Aishwarya. “Sir was writing letters and really trying. We have to drive 30 km from central Bengaluru to Vidhyanagar every day for training. It’s very difficult, but we don’t have a choice,” she says.

Amoj limps away

India’s most consistent quarter mile runner Amoj Jacob limped off the field after pulling a hamstring in the final lap of the mixed relay. He had just taken the lead seconds before injury forced him to go off the track. He was later towed away. Although there is no official update from the federation on his injury, Amoj later said he feared it could be a “serious injury”. Amoj won the 400m gold on Sunday, setting her personal best of 45.68 seconds.

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After winning the 1500m title, Delhi’s Chanda easily won the 800m with a new personal best of 2:01.67. Chanda, who missed the CWG mark of 2:00.83s, has now moved up from eighth to fifth in India’s all-time 800m leaderboard.

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