Kozhikode: Jinson Johnson was busy shopping in Kozhikode city, handpicking furnishing products and other accessories for his new home under construction at Chakkittapara when the news that he was among 20 sportspersons who were recommended for the Arjuna Award reached him.
Jinson, the Asian 1,500m champion, was visibly delighted and was eager to see the national honour comprising a bronze statue of Arjuna and a scroll, occupying pride of place in the living room of his dream house.
The 27-year-old soft-spoken athlete is somebody who firmly believes destiny will bring you things you yearn for at the right time. At the Asian Games, Jinson, who started as pre-race favourite in men’s 800m, was upstaged by unheralded Manjit Singh, who had never beaten him in the past, but he did not let that shock defeat rattle him. Two days later, he came back strongly in 1,500m and showed his class by clinching the gold.
The lanky runner, who has been in the form of his life this season, did not want to be complacent or sit back on his laurels after he shattered two of the longest standing Indian athletics records in a span of two months.
He was well aware of the fact that it took him five long years of hard work to achieve that incredible feat, and moreover, he was itching to do well at the continental event. Though he could win medals in consecutive years at Asian Championships, gold had remained elusive for him. Ultimately, to silence his detractors and naysayers, Jinson had to produce results in Indonesia, and he did that in style in the 1,500m final.
Congratulatory messages poured in from all quarters and rousing receptions awaited Jinson when he returned home from Jakarta. Upon arrival, he was accorded a warm felicitation by the Union Sports Ministry before Malayala Manorama organised a reception in Kochi to give the champion a befitting welcome. Over the past few weeks, he was busy attending felicitation ceremonies organised by various institutions and clubs across the state.
On Tuesday, Jinson flew to Bengaluru to attend the two-day Army Inter-Services Athletics Meet. “After the Services meet, I will be taking part in the 58th National Open Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar which begins on September 25. I will join the national training camp in October. It is going to be a hectic schedule till the Olympic Games in 2020,” Jinson, a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) in the Indian Army, said.
On being nominated for the Arjuna Award, he said: “This award is for my parents, because of all the sacrifices they made for me.”
Jinson’s words testifies to the fact his journey would not have been possible without the immense support and encouragement of his parents Kulachal Johnson and Shailaja.