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Athletics

Jyothi Yarraji: Overcoming Odds to re-define Indian Athletics

The sprinter is the country's first-ever 100m hurdler to qualify for the Olympics.

Jyothi Yarraji: Overcoming Odds to re-define Indian Athletics
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Jyothi Yarraji competes in the Asian athletics championship 2023 (Photo credits: Paris 2024)

By

Aditya Kumar Singh

Updated: 8 July 2024 7:09 AM GMT

Jyothi Yarraji created history by becoming the first Indian woman hurdler in the 100m hurdles to book her ticket for the Olympics. She qualified by ranking after clocking multiple sub-13s timings and rewriting numerous national records.

The rise of Jyothi in the past two years has been phenomenal and her journey to becoming India’s fastest hurdler is a testament of her perseverance and determination.

Born on August 28, 1999, in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, Jyothi grew up in modest circumstances, driven by a deep desire to uplift her family through her athletic prowess.

From her early days at Port High School Krishna in Vizag, Jyothi showed promise under the guidance of her physical education teacher, who recognized her potential as a hurdler. Motivated by a desire to support her family, Jyothi pursued athletics with unwavering dedication, eventually moving to the SAI Centre in Hyderabad to train under coach N Ramesh.

National Recognition and Setbacks

Her breakthrough came in 2015 with a gold medal at an Andhra Pradesh inter-district meet, followed by consistent podium finishes in national competitions. Despite setbacks, including the abrupt closure of the Centre of Excellence in Guntur, Jyothi’s resilience shone through as she relocated to the Odisha Reliance Athletics High-Performance Centre in Bhubaneswar.

Record-Breaking Feats

In 2020, Jyothi set the Indian women’s 100m hurdles national record with a remarkable timing of 13.23 seconds at the Cyprus International Athletics meet, overcoming initial technical hurdles to achieve her dream.

Her journey was marked by highs and lows, including injury setbacks and technicalities initially denying her record-setting performances.

Record-Breaking Runs

  • 13.38s - Women’s 100m hurdles - Cyprus International Meet - May 2022
  • 12.82s - Women’s 100m hurdles - 61st National Open Athletics Championship - October 2022
  • 12.78s - Women’s 100m hurdles - World University Games - August 2023
  • 8.16s - Women’s 60m hurdles - Asian Indoor Athletics Meet (Kazakhstan) heats - February 2023
  • 8.13s - Women’s 60m hurdles - Asian Indoor Athletics Meet (Kazakhstan) final - February 2023
  • 8.12s - Women’s 60m hurdles - Asian Indoor Athletics Meet (Tehran) final - February 2024

Continued Success and International Recognition

Despite these challenges, Jyothi continued to excel, setting new personal bests and breaking national records.

She showcased her talent on international stages, winning medals at prestigious events like the Asian Athletics Championships and the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships. Her accomplishments include:

  • Gold medal, Asian Athletics Championships 2023 (100m hurdles)
  • Silver medal, Asian Athletics Championships 2023 (200m)
  • Gold medal, Asian Indoor Athletics Championships 2024 (60m hurdles)
  • Silver medal, Asian Indoor Athletics Championships 2023 (60m hurdles)
  • Bronze medal, Summer World University Games 2021 (100m hurdles)

Road to Paris 2024

Yarraji's journey to the Paris 2024 Olympics has been marked by remarkable achievements and near-misses.

In May, she blazed through a Finland event, clocking an impressive 12.78 seconds in the 100m hurdles, just one-hundredth of a second shy of the automatic qualification mark of 12.77 seconds.

Jyothi Yarraji’s story is one of grit, determination, and overcoming adversity. From humble beginnings to rewriting records and representing India on the global stage, she embodies the spirit of perseverance in athletics.

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