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With eyes on Paris Olympics, long jumper Nayana James targets National Record

Surpassing her personal best, Nayana James leapt to a new personal best of 6.67m as she sets sights on the Paris Olympics qualification.

With eyes on Paris Olympics, long jumper Nayana James targets National Record

Nayana James in action. (Credits: Instagram/nayanajames)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 24 March 2024 6:01 AM GMT

Bengaluru: The Anju Bobby High-Performance Center was buzzing in the evening on March 20 as top Indian women long jumpers took to the pit in the final event of the third Indian Open Jumps Competition organised by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

While the crowd was roaring for favourite Shaili Singh, it was the experienced Nayana James who clinched the gold medal, achieving a new personal best of 6.67m.

She also surpassed the 6.40m mark in her remaining two legal jumps, affirming her consistency.

Speaking about her victory, Nayana told The Bridge, "I feel so grateful, and we were expecting this performance. We are now working on our way to the Paris Olympics."

Nayana improved upon her previous personal best of 6.55m by 0.12m. She has been consistently surpassing 6.50m for the past few years. She also won a silver medal at the 37th National Games last year.

"I have worked on technical precision for a while now. I have also improved my diet and overall fitness," said Nayana when asked about changes she made to achieve her new personal best.

Accompanying Nayana was her current coach, Pinto Mathew, who explained what changed for Nayana.

"She is an experienced long jumper. When I started training her, there was some confusion around the technique. She had been consistently jumping 6.50m for close to five years," said Pinto.

"We worked on her mental conditioning and then focused on her technique. We came here without much preparation, just to gain experience, and she ended up winning gold," he further added.

Eyes on Paris Olympics qualification

Nayana has her eyes firmly set on the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics. However, the qualification mark in the women's long jump for Paris is 6.86m, slightly higher than the national record of 6.83m set by Anju Bobby George in 2004.

Talking about the challenging qualification mark, Nayana said, "I am confident of surpassing that mark. Since the last National Games, we have been working towards it. I just need to make a couple of corrections, and that will enable me to reach there."

Another reason Nayana believes Indian jumpers can exceed the current national record is the level of competition at the national level.

"Currently, we have fantastic competition at the national level. Ancy, Shaili, and many other jumpers are performing well. With such competition, hitting the 7-metre mark is achievable," said Nayana.

With tournaments like the Federation Cup and Indian Grand Prix coming up in the next few months, Nayana will have a good opportunity to accumulate ranking points in the race for Paris qualification.

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