– Somasekhar Mulugu (Hyderabad)
Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh)-based athletics star Jyothi Yarraji (24) is on a roll this year. At the recently concluded XIX Asian Games staged in Hangzhou (China), she won a silver medal in the 100 metres hurdles clocking 12.91 seconds — .13 seconds faster than her own national record. Earlier in July, this lanky (5 ft 9’) athlete won gold at the Asian Athletics Championships held in Bangkok.
Despite the less than enthusiastic reception she received on her return from the Asian Games, Jyothi is undeterred. “I feel blessed for winning a silver medal for my country although I was awarded it after a false start by a Chinese athlete which almost disqualified me. Truth prevailed in the end and the judges disqualified her instead. Overall this has been a good year for me,” says Jyothi.
The younger child of Yarraji Suryanarayana, a security guard of a popular retail chain, and Yarraji Kumari, a homemaker, Jyothi took to athletics at age 15 when she was in class IX. “Encouraged by my physical education teacher who had great faith in my capabilities, I invested time, practicing daily. My first break came in 2016 at age 17 when I was selected for training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Gachibowli, Hyderabad,” she recalls.
Since then, in her eight-year career in competitive athletics which started with the 2016 Youth Games in Kozhikode (Kerala), Jyothi has won over 20 national and five international medals. Between 2016-2019, she was under the tutelage of national athletics coach N. Ramesh, and won the national 100 m hurdles every year from 2017-2022. In 2021, Jyothi was shortlisted in the Reliance Foundation talent hunt and relocated to Mumbai to train under British coach James Hillier, the foundation’s athletics director-mentor.
According to this can-do athlete “there is no substitute for hard work, especially in international events”. A final year arts student of VTJM College, Guntur, she follows a daily regimen comprising rigorous three-hour training sessions in the mornings and evenings.
“Although my eyes are set on the Paris Olympics 2024, I have some catching up to do. Currently my timing is under the Olympic qualification timing by .01 second. Therefore, over the next few months my focus is on qualifying for the Olympics,” says this sprint hurdles champ.
Way to go, Sis!