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Athletics

Fed Cup gold medalist Nayana James looking for sponsors to play abroad

Nayana James won the gold medal in the women's long jump at the Federation Cup Athletics with a best jump of 6.53m.

Fed Cup gold medalist Nayana James looking for sponsors to play abroad
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Long jumper Nayana James jumped 6.53m at the Federation Cup Athletics to win the gold medal. (PritishRaj/TheBridge)

By

Pritish Raj

Updated: 14 May 2024 1:30 AM GMT

Bhubaneswar: It was not a rosy start from long jumper Nayana James at the Federation Cup Athletics on Monday but the experienced jumper from Kerala jumped 6.53m in her fifth attempt to clinch the gold medal at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.

Starting with two foul jumps in two attempts, Nayana was on the brink of elimination from the competition but the 28-year-old athlete found her rhythm with a 6.04m jump in the third jump and continued improving till she overtook Shaili Singh in her fifth attempt.

The 6.53m jump proved to be the winning jump as Shaili couldn't improve her mark of 6.34m.

Playing in the hot and humid conditions of Bhubaneswar, Nayana cited that her body adapted to the weather due to similar conditions like Kerala but the starting run-ups were inconsistent resulting in her foul jumps.

Talking about the poor start and another gold medal, Nayana said, "I was expecting a great performance but it was a good performance."

This is the third competition for Nayana in the 2024 season. She jumped her personal best of 6.67m at the Open Jumps Competition in Bengaluru and finished second at the Indian Grand Prix 1 with the best jump of 6.44m.

"We have worked on my diet and strength. I have found the consistency that I was looking for," Nayana told The Bridge after her medal ceremony at the Federation Cup.

"Apart from all this, I am definitely working on my distance which needs constant improvement," she added further.

Road to Paris Olympics for Nayana James

With a personal best of 6.67m Nayana James is a little far from the 6.86m mark which is the qualification standard for the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.

In order to qualify for the Paris Olympics, Nayana will have to obliterate the 20-year-old national record set by legendary Anju Bobby George in 2004.

"I don't have any pressure as I know that I can do it. My focus is on getting the Olympic qualification done," Nayana said when asked about her thoughts on the national record.

Nayana doesn't have a choice other than breaking the national record as she is not ranked on the Road to Paris 2024 rankings of World Athletics. To achieve qualification by entry standards, Nayana needs to play more tournaments before the qualification period of World Athletics closes on 30th June 2024.

Athletics Federation of India will organize three competitions in that period, i.e. two Indian Grand Prix and National Inter-State Championships.

Nayana is in search of sponsors who can back her financially to play in more competitions and perform there.

"Apart from the domestic competitions, I am looking at foreign competitions. I haven't planned anything at the moment as I don't have any financial backers," said Nayana.

Another thing making Nayana's pursuit of foreign competitions tough is her absence from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) of the Sports Ministry.

"Such competitions give us more motivation and if I get a chance to explore, it is like a benchmark that will help me as a long jumper," said Nayana on the benefits of participating in the European competitions.

"I know I can qualify for the Olympics but sometimes we have to wait for the right moment," concluded Nayana with hopes of chasing her Olympics dream.

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