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Mayookha aiming for a historic double

Stan Rayan



Mayookha Johny.

KOCHI: A few weeks after reports came in that India was hiring treadmills at nearly Rs. 10 lakh apiece for the Commonwealth Games, the country's most impressive jumper Mayookha Johny is waiting for a new pair of triple jump spikes.

She has got a new pair for the long jump from her cousin in the US. “But the special ones I had ordered for the triple jump haven't arrived yet,” said the 22-year-old on Friday evening.

“But that doesn't matter, I have another pair, I can manage,” she added almost instantly.

Mayookha is a transformed girl these days and things like performing in old spikes don't worry her.

Just a few months ago, she was a picture of pain and confusion. An ankle injury had taken a year and a half off her sparkling career and when she returned in May, she did not know where she stood, both in the country and outside.

But after a string of top-notch performances, which saw her post personal bests in both her events, Mayookha is now brimming with confidence as she gets ready for the Commonwealth Games.

“I think I can win medals in both the long and triple jumps in Delhi,” she said. If she gets the double, she will be the first Indian to do it in Commonwealth Games athletics.

A few weeks ago, Mayookha and her SAI (Sports Authority of India) coach Jose Mathew said that her best hope for a medal in New Delhi stood in the triple jump. Soon after that, she broke Anju George's national record in the event, with a 13.68m effort at the inter-State National in Patiala.

Higher ranking

“I think my chances are much stronger in long jump now. I am ranked higher in long jump among Commonwealth athletes,” said the Kerala athlete, who has come up with a series of stunning performances.

Mayookha's 6.64m which came while winning the Asian All-Stars gold in Delhi in July puts her in the sixth spot in long jump, behind Nigeria's Beijing Olympics bronze medallist and African champion Blessing Okagbare (6.88m), Canada's Ruki Abdulai (6.74), Anguilla's Shara Proctor (6.69) Trinidad and Tobago's Rhonda Watkins (6.69) and Canada's Alica Falaiye (6.68). “I hope to do 6.75 in the long jump which I think will bring a medal,” said Mayookha, whose dad M.D. Johny was a body-builder and a former Mr. Bombay.

Olympian Suresh Babu, the first Indian to win a Commonwealth Games long jump medal at Edmonton in 1978, also feels that Mayooka's best chance in Delhi is in the long jump.

“If her Commonwealth ranking is better in long jump, her chances will be better there,” said Babu, the former Asian Games champion who was also the captain of the Indian contingent in Edmonton.

Massive leap

Mayookha is planning a big one in triple jump too.

She is working on unleashing a massive 14-metre leap in the hop step and jump event which, apart from breaking her National record by a massive 32cm, her coach believes would fetch a bronze.

“The Commonwealth's top two, Jamaica's Kimberly Williams (14.23m) and CWG defending champion Trecia Smith (14.13) are too far away. We are hoping for something slightly above 14m which would bring the bronze,” said Jose Mathew. “And she will have the huge home crowd supporting her… that will work wonders.”

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