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Asiad gold is long jumper Neena’s new goal


It’s almost two years since long jumper V. Neena took part in a national competition but it looks like nothing has changed. The 2018 Asian Games silver medallist, now the mother of a three-month-old baby girl Alexandra Jo Pinto, feels that she is very fortunate.

“We did not have any competition the whole of last year because of the lockdown and this year, I’ve just missed a few. I’m very lucky that way,” said Neena, in a chat with The Hindu, on Monday.

“I think I’ve added some 10kg, I’ve been trying to lose that first.My plan is to come back to national competitions next year,” said Neena whose personal best (6.66m) came in 2016.

“We have the Asian Games next year, a gold there is my new goal… also going to the 2024 Olympics.”

At the 2018 Asiad, she lost the gold by 4cm (6.51m).“I did not get the board in any of my jumps in Jakarta. I think there was a sort of difference in my running steps,” said Neena, also the 2017 Asian silver medallist in Bhubaneswar.

Incidentally, Vietnam’s Bui Thi Thu Thao, who won the Asiad gold, also took a break last year to prepare for motherhood.

Priyanka Kerketta and Rintu Mathew took the top two spots, ahead of Neena, at the 2019 Ranchi Open Nationals, her last competition before the break. The two maintained the same order in the recent Federation Cup too.

Strong fight

“But when I come back next year, I expect a lot of young girls to give me a strong fight. There is Ancy Sojan and also Anju George’s trainee Shaili Singh,” said Neena, who is employed with the Railways.

She has started working on her fitness at her home in Kozhikode and will soon start training with her husband, former sprint hurdler Pinto Mathew, at Pala.

“I’m very comfortable with Pinto, the training timings can be very flexible too,” she explained.

Despite the break, Neena feels that motherhood comes with many advantages too. “They say, one gets stronger after delivery, it’s a new experience for me, I want to see how it works.”

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