Juggling between online school classes and intense training with an aim to clinch Asian Games gold has been tough for promising long jumper Shaili Singh but her belief in the mantra “impossible is nothing" is pushing her on.
The 18-year-old, who came to the limelight after winning a silver in the World U-20 Championships last year, is dividing her day’s time in attending Class X online classes and training at Sports Authority of India Center in Bengaluru.
More than that, she fought COVID-19 infection in January during the third wave that swept the country. She has recovered completely from the infection and has started training since the last week of January.
“It’s tough, no doubt. I start my training early in the morning and then after lunch, I have to attend online classes for 2-3 hours. After that, I have to rush for evening session training," Shaili told PTI in an interview.
“In January, I contracted COVID-19 and had some breathing difficulties but recovered in little over a week’s time. I am fully fit now and have started training but yet to start jump training."
A Class X student at St. Patrick School in Bengaluru, Shaili missed classes and board examinations last year as she was training for the Junior World Championships where she jumped a wind-assisted 6.59m to finish second.
“My coach (Bobby George) told me study is also important. So, I’m going to take (board) examinations in March. I can’t miss online classes, I have to pass the exam," said the protege of long jump legend Anju Bobby George.
Shaili was raised by her mother with great difficulty at a village in Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh. Her mother Vinitha used to work as a tailor to feed her three children.
She now trains under Anju’s husband Bobby George who spotted her in 2018.
Shaili has been roped in by sportswear giant Adidas for its third chapter of the ‘Impossible is Nothing’ campaign, focussing completely on women.
The talented teenager will not be gunning for a junior world championships gold in Colombia in August. Instead, she is focussing on the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in China.
The dates of the CWG (July 28 to August 8) and junior world championships (August 2-7) also clash.
“My target this year is to win a gold in Asian Games (September 10-25), my coach said I can do it. I am looking at jumping 6.70m to 6.75m which I feel is achievable," she said.
Shaili’s 6.59m effort in Kenya last year will not be counted for record purposes as it was wind-assisted. The national junior long jump record in her name stands at 6.48m which she did last year.
The gold winner at the 2018 Asian Games had jumped 6.55m and the bronze medallist managed 6.50m.
“Bobby sir said since the dates are clashing, I will not be taking part in the World U-20 but should participate in the CWG.
“The level of athletics at CWG is very good (with jumpers from UK, Nigeria, Australia, etc. among top rankers in the world), and competing against some of the best will give me immense experience. So, I am going for CWG and missing junior Worlds."
She said she will start her season a bit late and will take part in national competitions from May onwards so that she can peak by the time of the Asian Games in September.
On the ‘Impossible is Nothing’ campaign of Adidas, she said, “I like this campaign and tagline because this mainly concerns women. There is nothing women cannot do these days.
“Women are doing very well in every field. In my family, my mother supports me and my (elder) sister more than my (younger) brother. So, times are changing."