‘Shaili Singh will be gold medal contender at 2022 Asian Games,’ says coach Bobby George
Ever since he spotted her at a junior meet in 2017, renowned athletics coach Robert Bobby George knew long jumper Shaili Singh was built for big things. Singh justified that faith by winning a silver medal at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday with a jump of 6.59m in the finals.
“She’s only 17 but is very spirited,” Bobby George, who has been working with Singh for the last three years, said in a media interaction right after the event. “She has been doing very well in nationals but I always knew she could do even better on a global platform and I am happy she was able to do that.”
While Singh won the silver with a personal best effort, she missed the gold medal by a centimeter. Maja Askag of Sweden claimed the top prize with a leap of 6.60m on Sunday.
Singh has been working with Indian athletics legend Anju Bobby George and her husband and coach Bobby George for the past three years. And though Bobby George, who travelled to Nairobi with Singh, is proud of his ward he warned that she was still a work in progress and will take another year to reach her potential.
“I think you can expect bigger things from her once she turns 18,” said Bobby George, who had guided Anju to India’s first World Championship medal in athletics as the long jumper won a bronze at the 2003 Paris world event.
“By the next year Shaili will be a medal contender at senior meets too. Shaili will be a medal contender at the 2022 Commonwealth Games; I would say she will be a gold medal contender for the Asian Games next year as well. She might qualify for the senior World Championship as well.”
“She has fantastic speed,” he added. “For the past three years we have been working on the basics with her. We have worked on developing her speed. Her power level has to improve. Right now it is still very good, but that is one area for improvement when you look at top international standard.”
Singh’s medal took India’s medal tally to three at the U20 World Championships: the first time that the country has won more than one medal at the elite junior event. Bobby George, who has been on the Indian athletics scene for almost three decades, believes they’ve never had it better.
“Neeraj Chopra’s medal (gold at Tokyo 2020) has inspired everyone,” he added. “We are continuing that momentum by winning medals at the junior Championships. We are seeing athletics take centrestage in the country.”
Shaili Singh’s medal is another leap forward for Indian athletics.