Bhubaneswar: Athletes from the Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High Performance Centre (HPC) in Bhubaneswar gave further evidence of their exceptional progress at the Federation Cup in Calicut, Kerala last week. Three athletes from the HPC – Amlan Borgohain, Jyothi Yarraji and Siddhanth Thingalaya returned with Gold medals, while another, Moumita Mondal won a silver.
Several other athletes from the HPC recorded Personal Bests (PBs) and a couple narrowly missed out on medals, giving coach Head Coach James Hillier plenty of reason to be proud of his wards, while ruing some missed opportunities.
“It’s hard for me to say I’m satisfied because as a coach you always want more,” said Hillier. “We had some exceptional individual performances at the competition but as a whole, we actually had some pretty rotten luck.”
Among the Gold medal winners, Borgohain produced a sizzling sprint to erase the national record of 20.63 seconds by winning the 200 metres in 20.52 seconds. While Borgohain celebrated his national record, Yarraji was in tears at the completion of her race, despite clinching Gold in the 100m hurdles. Her timing of 13.09 seconds obliterated the existing national record of 13.38 seconds but the mark was denied since the tail-wind was marginally above the permitted limit. The blow was cushioned to an extent as Mondal, who is also Yarraji’s training partner, claimed silver with a timing of 13.78 seconds, making it a remarkable 1-2 for HPC athletes.
“It was a truly dominant performance and surely only a matter of time before Jyothi officially breaks this record again,” says Hillier. “Jyothi came to us in July last year extremely low on confidence, injured and extremely unfit. Gradually, I needed to instill confidence in her and build up her speed, strength and training consistency.”
Thingalaya, who at 31 is one of the veterans of the national circuit, returned to competition after two and half years to win the 110m hurdles in 14.08 seconds. In the same category, Graceson Jeeva ran a PB of 14.67 seconds to finish fourth. At just 19, Hillier has identified him as a bright prospect for the future.
High Jumper Swadhin Majhi also returned with a PB of 2.10 metres to finish fifth, despite battling with a bruised heel that restricted his training over the last month. 3000m Steeplechaser Susmita Tiga, the newest addition to the HPC, ran a PB of 11.23.10 to finish in fourth place. Another athlete to narrowly miss out on a bronze was Pragyan Sahu in the 400m hurdles. Long Jumpers Sabita Toppo and Manisha Merel finished outside the medals as this competition was meant to provide them experience and exposure at the top level.
“Nothing I saw from any of our amazing performances was a fluke,” says Hillier. “Everything was trained for and meticulously planned. We have put together a really great performance team. They all add value to the work I do and without them, their expertise and their energy I’m sure we wouldn’t have been as successful.”