A new season and a new coach. For quarter-miler Priya Mohan, a lot is happening at the beginning of 2023 season. Two months back, she parted ways with her long-time coach Arjun Ajay in Bengaluru; she is part of a group of athletes backed, trained and looked after by JSW’s Inspire Institute of Sport in Ballari. Her new coach Anier Garcia is tall, both physically and achievement wise—the Cuban is 2000 Olympic 110m hurdles champion.
Coming on the back of a hamstring injury that saw her skip a few competitions at the end of the last season, Priya kick-started the new season with a gold in the 26th National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships in Ranchi. She clocked a time of 53.40 seconds in the 400m event and made the qualification mark easily for the forthcoming Asian Athletics Championship to be held in Bangkok from July 12.
Priya, the junior world championship medallist and country’s fastest quarter-miler, is however not satisfied with her performance. Speaking to THE WEEK, the 20-year-old said, “ I was happy with the competition, but not happy with the timings. Still lots to work on. I have been running 53 seconds which I am not happy about. I wanted to start the season with 52 seconds. Well, let's see how the season goes,” she said.
Speaking about graduating this season fully to the senior level and working with a new coach, Priya said, “ I started my new journey just one-and-a-half-month back. I changed my coach, I don't know how this season will go, but it will take one or two years for me to produce some good timings. So I can't promise anything this season. Just trusting the coach’s plans and looking forward to competing.”
After parting ways with her old coach, Priya joined IIS in March this year. She said during the off season, her focus was mainly on improving her endurance and speed. On what was her new coach’s feedback on her races so far, Priya—unfazed about graduating to the senior level—said, “ I started competing with seniors even when I was a junior. So I have experience of competing with seniors. About the race, my coach said it was a good race but he as not happy with the starting 80m. He has planned to make me run better timings in Asian Championships and Asian Games. Even I have a target for World Championships, so we will see how it goes.”
Priya wants to give the World Championships qualification time (51s) a shot. Her personal best is 52.37s.
About the new coach, Priya said, “ He’ s good. I loved working with him here. Focus is more on repetitions than recovery. He has an aggressive approach. I still need to work on technical part which I can only work in off season.”
Priya said this season she will simply follow what her coach says and then will take it from there.