Top Indian middle and long distance runner O P Jaisha is set to leave marathon after Sunday’s Standard Chartered Mumbai Race as she feels that she has a better chance of winning a medal in 1500m and 5000m events in the Olympics later this year.
Jaisha has already qualified for the Rio Olympics in marathon but she said she does not have much chance to win a medal in that event and wants to shift focus on 1500m and 5000m. She said her coach Nikolai Snesarev has told her that Mumbai Marathon, which she won last year among the Indian contestants, will be her last.
Jaisha though is yet to qualify for Rio Olympics in 1500m and 5000m.
“Yes, my coach felt I had a good chance in marathon in the Rio Games. But I feel I have a better chance of a medal in 1,500m and 5,000m and am going to concentrate on qualifying for them after this marathon. Our coach (Belarussian Nikolai Snesarev) has promised me it is the last marathon I will run in my life,” Jaisha said at a media conference today.
Jaisha, on her debut in the gruelling 42-km run last year, outlasted all other Indian rivals to come home in 2:37:29, then a new national mark, and later attained the qualifying mark for the August Rio Games set by the world athletics body IAAF.
Jaisha, who has won bronze medals in past two Asian Games in 5,000 and 1,500m, bettered her own mark while running the marathon in last year’s World Championships at Beijing where she clocked 2:34:43 to end up 18th, but said her mind was not set in running either the marathon or even the 10,000m at Rio.
“Before and after the Incheon Asian Games I had trained, along with Sudha Singh (who finished 19th in Beijing and also qualified for Rio) and Lalita Babar, mainly for the marathon for one year and ten months at the high-altitude Ooty. This has helped me improve my endurance as well as speed,” said Jaisha who will be 33 in May.
Jaisha said she can give a shot at a medal in 1,500m or 5,000m in Rio as per the timings she has clocked in the past, rather than in the marathon and was confident of qualifying for these events in the run-up to Rio Games.
“I am confident I will qualify in these events. I have done 4:03 in 1,500 (qualifying mark 4:08. Though I did 15:30 in the last National Games, it was because I could not do speed work in the short period available. I am confident I can make the 15:24 qualifying mark. I, in fact, am targeting something between 14:40 and 14:50,” said Jaisha.