Control the controllables is one of the sports’ enduring cliches that former Indian skipper MS Dhoni almost made his own during his days at the helm. While many may baulk at the downright banality of the trait, some, like long jumper Ancy Sojan love to live by it.
“It is what MS Dhoni would often say. Focus on the process and do not worry about the results. That’s what I did today,” Sojan said on Monday after winning a silver medal with a personal best leap of 6.63m.
Ancy’s process, quite simply, is her training. And listening to some English and Tamil numbers, even a little jig “just to get the body moving.”
“Before an event, everyone is worried about the results but results come afterward. The process is what we need to do in training. Once Dhoni said that what you do in training, you have to repeat that in the match. So firstly, we have to find out what we need to do. I did that and the results are coming.”
The results came out very well for Ancy on another benign evening at the packed and vocal Hangzhou Olympics Sports Centre, with four of her five legal jumps being 6.30m or above.
“The conditions were good today. The board felt great too. The crowd was superb. I had landed here expecting a medal and I am very happy to have done that,” she said.
Ancy has been a strong domestic jumper for a few seasons now, but international success had eluded her thus far. She finished fourth at the Asian Championships in Thailand in July (6.41m), a result that forced her to course correct.
“After that fourth-place finish, I realsied I was capable of much more. I had decent jumps all season but unfortunately, I couldn’t win anything major. The Asian Championships left me sad for a week but then I decided no matter how tough things get for me, I will not lose hope. I fixed whatever I needed to in my training and was determined to do well here. I also had some weight problems due to some menstrual issues but everything is now perfect,” she said.
Ancy started the competition with a modest 6.13m jump but found her range soon, jumping 6.49m and 6.56m in her next two attempts. A 6.30m was followed by the winning leap of 6.63m and Ancy closed the competition with a foul.
China’s 19-year-old national champion Shiqi Xiong won the gold with a jump of 6.73m that arrived on her third try. Xiong, in fact, had a memorable evening where her first five jumps were all in excess of 6.60m. The bronze was won by Hong Kong’s Nga Yan Yue who jumped 6.50m. All three podium finishers delivered their career-best performances in the 15-woman final.
“The jumps kept getting better every time, which felt great. My rhythm was a little off in my opening jump, but I used my Asian Championships experience to get out of my disappointment. If I have to be a champion, I have to do better than the rest and that is what I tried to do today,” Ancy said.
“I lost out on gold by a few centimetres because I have achieved my goal of winning a medal here. I knew I was going to make it my day, and I did make it my day.”
The Usain Bolt and Neymar fan will celebrate the night dancing to Vijay’s latest chartbuster ‘naa ready thaan varava’ from an upcoming movie Leo. Literally, the song translates to ‘I am ready. are you ready for me?’ Under the dazzling Hangzhou skyline, Ancy showed she was ready.
There was disappointment for youngster Shaili Singh whose maiden Asian Games appearance ended in tears and fifth place. Singh, coached by Robert and Anju Bobby George, could muster a best jump of 6.48m that came on her penultimate effort.
“I am sorry I could not give my best today. I tried a lot but the jumps were just not coming. It was a bad day,” said Singh as she broke down after a below-par performance. During the competition, Ancy tried her best to keep Singh’s spirits high, but nothing worked.
“I kept telling her to stay mentally strong and take it one jump at a time. She is still very young and will surely learn,” said Ancy who will next be seen in action at the National Games before heading into the off-season.
“Next season, I want to become the first Indian woman to breach the 7m barrier,” she said.