Indian long-jumper Shaili Singh undergoing six-year development program, says coach Robert Bobby George

The rising Indian athlete's coach speaks about her development and overcoming struggles during Covid-19 lockdown

By Olympic Channel Writer
Picture by Twitter/SAI Media

Rising Indian long jumper Shaili Singh has found a guiding light in India's lone medallist at the World Championships Anju Bobby George and coach Robert Bobby George.

The journey for long jumper from Jhansi began after Robert spotted her at the 2017 National Junior Athletics Championships in Manglagiri, Vijayawada. The coach believed in her potential even though she didn't have the best technique. He has planned a six-year development program to groom the prodigy.

“I started coaching Anju in her 20s so there were some niggles that I could not iron out. That is not the case with Shaili. I have worked with her from the scratch and at the moment, she is in the middle of our six-year development program,” Robert told the Indian Express.

Shaili has improved leaps and bounds and bagged a silver medal at the 2021 World Athletic U20 Championships with her best effort of 6.59m.

Her coach Robert had predicted that she could achieve the distance of 6.60m at the event and she almost made it.

But the feat was only possible due to the relentless effort put behind the scenes by Robert and Anju. Shaili has also developed a close bond with their children Andrea and Aaron.

Through their academy, Anju and Robert look after their trainees' accommodation and they made sure their wards had a place to stay and continue training in Bengaluru during the second phase of Covid-19 lockdown while the Sports Authority of India (SAI) decided to send all the trainees back home.

“I had a vacant house near to my home and let them stay there. I told them since it’s Covid, we can’t hire help. I used to get the groceries and proteins and they used to cook and enjoy,” Robert said.

Furthermore, Shaili has been billed as the next Anju Bobby George, as the World Championships bronze medallist believes that she can better her personal best record of 6.83m.

“Being with a champion gives you a lot of confidence. Being with the coach of a world-beater is double impact,” feels Robert.

Time will tell how much of an impact is felt by the prodigious 17-year-old talent.

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