Jaison vaults to success
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At the national school meet, a worried Maria Jaison strolled down the runway, counting her steps. Since morning, despite numerous attempts, she had failed to produce anything noteworthy. However, everything changed in the moments that followed.
With the perfect take-off, acceleration, swing and shape, Maria had cleared the 3.20 mark — a national school record. It was her first attempt in the u-17 pole vault event, and though Maria tried to better the mark a couple of times she did not come close to her first effort. However, it was certainly better than the 3 meter mark she set at the Kerala state meet in December last year, which had bettered the national record of 2.90 set by Melby Manuel.
Her effort today was special as she had improved on her own performance and created a new meet record, with the previous meet record being 2.90m too. Maria's improvement over the last few tournaments has been impressive. In the last national school meet at Ludhiana, she had an attempt of 2.60m that helped her win gold but it was her performance at the Kerala state meet later that helped her set her sights higher. And today's new meet record was a further improvement. "I was just an ordinary athlete before joining Pala Jumps academy, but today I am dreaming of competing for the country soon," said the Kottayam girl.
Several things changed for Maria at the academy, most importantly, her diet. The meager income of her father, a farmer, was not always enough for the dietary requirements of an athlete. "But even that was not easy as I had to travel 22 km everyday to get to the academy. I trained for three hours in the morning, then get to school, and get straight back to train for three more hours. Looking back now, it was all worth it," she says.
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