D. Jyothika Sri, who made the cut for the Paris 2024 Olympics being part of the women’s 4 x 400m relay that finished second in the World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24 meet on Monday, said she wanted to make the country and her father proud with a special performance in the qualifying event for the Olympics.

“Yes, moving to Hyderabad during the pandemic when I was not able to do any training in Vijayawada was a huge turning point of my career. Thanks to my coach Vinayak Sir who spoke to Ramesh sir (SAI athletics coach N. Ramesh), it all happened,” she said.

In an exclusive chat with Sportstar, Jyothika said she was not really expecting to qualify for the Paris Olympics though a lot of planning and hard work was behind the eventual result.

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“We all knew it was so tough to qualify in any relay event at this level. We were really good in managing injuries, pain and the end result is certainly immensely satisfying,” Jyothika said.

“Definitely, the one month preparatory camp in Jamaica helped us to adapt to the conditions slowly for the big event,” she said.

“It was a different but not a difficult track for the qualifying event. But hats off to my teammates to pull off such a terrific performance,” she said.

Jyothika said she was targeting an Olympic medal in the 2028 edition but was hoping to make it to the Paris edition and set an Asian record there.

“Now, we have set new benchmarks. We are confident of putting on a fine show in Paris too,” she said.

“It is a great feeling, no doubt, to make it to the Paris Olympics. Any athlete’s dream for sure and coming now is something truly special and I give credit to my parents, especially my father (D. Srinivasa Rao), coaches Vinayak and Ramesh and to Gopichand Sir (chief national badminton coach for the Gopi-Mytrah Foundation initiative to support performing athletes)and the Eenadu group,” Jyothika said.

Any specific advice or change suggested which made you look a far better athlete? “Not really. It is all about staying focussed, the art which I feel I mastered for better results in recent times,” she signed off.