India is a sports-loving nation and has a special space in India. We are blessed to have Word class athletes and players which has produced so many great sportsmen in every sport. In recent times Indian women athletes have amazed us by breaking the gender barrier and created a niche which inspired the future generation. Players like Sania Mirza, Mary Kom, Mithali Raj, Saina Nehwal, Geeta Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Deepa Malik, PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Mithali Raj to name a few have reached the top against odds and also made us proud by being trailblazers the best game-changers we will ever know. They have taught us to look beyond gender stereotypes and paved the way to empower us all.
Today we are all set to talk about inspirational story of a long jumper journey from Jhansi to Nairobi and made a promising career has been full of metaphorical uphill climbs. Shaili Singh has been trained by legendary athletes such as Robert Bobby George and Anju George, who are confident in her ability to win medals at the Olympics and Worlds in the next few years. The 17th year old life story will inspire the whole nation and has gone through own struggle from very early age and hails from Jhansi.
She was brought up by a single mother who learnt tailoring to earn a daily living, India’s new queen of long jump was quoted saying “It was a tough battle for my mother in the beginning. She had to raise three kids as a single parent. But all credit to her, she worked hard to support us. She is very strong,” Shaili was quoted saying “My mom convinced me before the final saying, ‘Nothing wrong will happen and you’ll win the gold’.” ‘Don’t worry (mom). I will win gold next time’ Shaili’s mother told her, “Don’t be tensed, it will all fall in place as (coach Robert Bobby George) sir is with you…. Don’t worry (mom). I will improve next time and win the gold.”
She went on to win silver post missing out on gold by a centimetre to Sweden’s Maja Askag at the World Athletics under-20 championships but established herself as a star to watch out for. Her first two attempt were not that great but edged her out in the fourth round by the narrowest of margins to eventually win the gold. Shaili’s previous best jump was 6.48m. Shaili’s winning the silver medal is the first long jump medal at the under-20 Worlds while Anju’s 2003 Worlds long jump bronze is India’s lone medal at the ‘senior’ Worlds. Her coach Bobby George was quoted saying “Shaili was brilliant. Of course, gold would have been prettier.”
She had to go through a lot trouble while growing up, sometimes used to run without shoes but fought with listers to compete in school-level competitions. There was time when family to have even three-square meals on the table. Shaili is takes inspiration from her mother and the first person she calls to update on results. She spoke about her bond with her mother and was quoted saying “My mother told me before the final not to worry. She expected me to win gold. Next time, I will win gold. I wanted to hear the National Anthem being played at the stadium. As she is a single mother, it was difficult for her but my mother looked after me, my sister, and my brother.”
National record-holder Anju expects Shaili to reach greater heights and win an Olympic medal for the country. Anju was quoted saying “She can improve on the national record (6.83 metres). Our main target for Shaili is to help her finish on the podium at the Olympic Games, which is the most valuable thing. If our trainee can win a medal, I will consider it as my own.
Shaili was inducted into the Lucknow Sports Hostel but her big break came after she caught Robert’s eye, even though she finished outside the medals and had no proper technique at the National Junior Athletics Championships in Vijayawada in 2017. A week later, Anju spotted her at the Inter-District Junior Championships, and the couple agreed they had found an athlete with the potential to become the next big star.