We have everything in India, need to start believing we are as good as anyone: Kishore Jena

NEW DELHI, Apr 2: Olympic-bound javelin thrower Kishore Jena says facilities and funding have never been as good as they are right now for India’s athletes, who need to improve their mindset and start considering themselves as good as anyone else in the world.

Jena undertook a 35-day training stint in Gold Coast in Australia from February 5 to March 10, funded by Target Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS). Speaking to PTI, Jena said he hardly found anything different save for the warmer weather Down Under, which was more conducive for his training.

“We have everything here, I trained at NIS Patiala where the facilities are world class and as good as in Australia. I have been looked after very well by Sports Ministry, SAI (Sports Authority of India), getting funding from TOPS,” Jena, youngest of the seven children of a paddy farmer in Kothasahi village near Puri in Odisha, said in the interview facilitated by SAI.

“What is lacking is in ourselves (athletes), our mindset, the mindset that we are as good as any other in the world though we are improving on this front as well.”

His goal is to deliver his personal best at the upcoming Paris Olympics but the Asian Games silver-medallist feels he can enter the exclusive Indian club of Diamond League top-three finishers.

Jena, who improved his personal best from 78.05m to 87.54m last year, is beginning his season at the Doha leg of the prestigious Diamond League on May 10.

He will also take part in Golden Spike at Ostrava, Czech Republic, on May 28 — a World Athletics Continental Tour gold level event — and the Paris leg of the Diamond League on July 7.

“This year, everything is about doing my personal best in Paris Olympics. That is the most important thing. But everybody wants to finish on podium (top three) in prestigious competitions like Diamond League and I also hope to do that,” Jena said.

“If I do my best on the day, it (top three finish in DL) can happen,” said the 28-year-old who made the Paris Olympics cut by breaching the 85.50m qualifying standard at the Asian Games last year.

Till now, reigning Olympic and world champion Neeraj Chopra, long jumper M Sreeshankar and former discus throw star Vikas Gowda are the only three Indians who have finished inside top three in a Diamond League meet.

Jena threw his personal best of 87.44m to win the silver medal in the Hangzhou Asian Games last year, while Chopra took the gold with a throw of 88.88m.

His meteoric rise last year — from finishing fifth in the Budapest World Championships to winning silver medal in Asian Games — was achieved while training in India and he said the country has world class infrastructure and support system to shine at the global stage.

“It’s cold in Patiala in winter and difficult to manage training because of fog also. So, we requested SAI for training stint in Australia. We went to Australia solely because of the cold winter in Patiala, nothing else.

“It was a productive stint of strength training and improvement on technique (in Australia). We worked on the bending of the blocking leg. It will gradually improve and I am hoping for 85 per cent improvement on that.

“We are yet to do full throwing sessions (in Patiala), will do gradually as the Diamond League (Doha leg on May 10) approaches. I am hoping to improve my personal best and achieve peak form during Paris Olympics.”

Chopra had said after last year’s Asian Games that Jena has a smooth run-up but his blocking leg bends a bit and he will do even better if he corrects that.

Jena said that he has started much better than last year and will be training at NIS Patiala before leaving for Doha.

Asked if he will return to India after competitions abroad, Jena said, “I may be taking part in back-to-back events (beginning in Doha on May 10) and may need to be abroad most of the time till the Paris Olympics, but we are yet to finalise.

“But from the Paris Diamond League (July 7) onwards, I would prefer to have my base there till the end of the Olympics.”

The men’s javelin throw event at the Paris Olympics will start with the qualifying round on August 6 and final will be held on August 8. (PTI)