Eye on making Olympics grade, Jinson Johnson moving base to USA - Hindustan Times
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Eye on making Olympics grade, Jinson Johnson moving base to USA

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Jul 24, 2019 09:08 AM IST

Johnson set the national record of 3:37.62 sec — also his personal best — at the Next Generation Meet in the Dutch city of Nijmegen in June, erasing the previous best of 3:37.86 sec posted during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

With Tokyo Olympic Games qualification as target, Jakarta Asian Games 1500m champion Jinson Johnson has split with his coach of two years, Jasvinder Singh Bhatia, and is planning to shift to Colorado Springs, US as early as August. “I want to achieve the Olympic qualification time of 3:35.00 sec and that is not possible if I continue to train at the national camp in Bengaluru,” said Johnson.

File image of Indian athlete Jinson Johnson(Getty Images)
File image of Indian athlete Jinson Johnson(Getty Images)

Johnson set the national record of 3:37.62 sec — also his personal best — at the Next Generation Meet in the Dutch city of Nijmegen in June, erasing the previous best of 3:37.86 sec posted during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

But to further improve his timing, the Kerala athlete, who is supported by the government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme, plans to do high-altitude training (6000 feet) at the American Distance Project in Colorado Springs under Scott Simmons. “The facilities there are better, it will help me slice two seconds in 1500m and qualify for the Olympics,” he added.

After his record-breaking performances in 800m and 1500m in 2018, this year has started on a sedate note and the 28-year-old Army athlete has fallen short of the Doha World Championships qualifying time of 3:36.00 sec.

In April, a calf injury suffered during the 800m event at the Doha Asian Championships further hampered his progress. Subsequently he didn’t compete in 1500m.

Earlier this week, Johnson applied for the US visa and is hopeful of starting training next month. “My training programme will depend on the how quickly I get the visa. If I go to Colorado Springs, I will not be able to compete in the August 27-30 Inter-state Senior National Championships in Lucknow, which is the qualification event for the World Championships,” he said.

Simmons, replying to a query on email, said, he could not plan Johnson’s training schedule until there was more clarity. “I am unsure of his competition schedule until we begin training in earnest. Our ultimate goal however will be Tokyo,” said Simmons.

But one thing is certain: Johnson is no longer focusing on the two-lap race. “I’m not competing in 800m at the international level as it is very tough to clip even a fraction of a second to reach the next level.”

Last year in June, Johnson had clocked 1:45.65 sec in Guwahati to erase Sriram Singh’s four-decade-old record of 1:45.77 sec set during the 1976 Olympics. In 2016, he had qualified for the Rio Olympics, timing 1:45.98, but failed advance beyond the first round. The 2020 Olympic qualifying mark is 1:45.20 sec. “Unlike 1500m, it’s difficult to recover lost ground in a two-lap race,” he said.

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