Kerala athlete Lizbeth Karoline Joseph has received a big boost in her pursuit of glory. The Liberty University, Virginia, US, has handed her a four-year scholarship worth Rs 1.64 crore, which includes the triple jumper's training, accommodation and study expenses.
The 20-year-old from Pullurampara in Kozhikode is a product of Malabar Sports Academy.
“I studied at St Mary's Higher Secondary School Koodathai till fifth standard. Seeing my interest in sports, it was Siby sir (physical education teacher) who took me to the Malabar Sports Academy (at Pullurampara),” Lizbeth told Onmanorama over the phone from New Delhi, where she attended her visa interview on Tuesday.
Under the watchful eyes of Tomy Cherian at the Academy, Lizbeth made a reputation for herself as she bagged three gold medals representing St. Joseph's Higher Secondary School, Pullurampara, at the National School Games in 2015-16.
She won the triple jump gold with a record (12.56m) and equalled the high jump record (1.65m) besides clinching the long jump gold with an effort of 5.53m in Kozhikode.
Lizbeth gave up high jump during her Plus One days and had a short stint at Anju Bobby George's academy in Bengaluru. She turned her attention solely to triple jump after joining Alphonsa College, Pala.
She went on to represent India at the 2017 World Youth Games in Nairobi. Liberty University jumps coach Shawn Venable was impressed by Lizbeth's performance and was keen on offering her a scholarship.
“I was only 17 then and I felt I wasn't yet ready. So I turned down the offer,” said Lizbeth.
Her best performance came in the 2019 National Junior Athletics Championship, when she reigned supreme with a jump of 12.99m.
“I trained under Anoop (Joseph) sir at Alphonsa. Once sir retired and moved over to Kochi I also shifted my base. The outbreak of COVID-19 forced me to return home early last year. I have been training under Tomy sir again at the Academy,” said Lizbeth.
Tomy believes it's the right break for his ward. “At present I would say Lizbeth is one of the top three triple jumpers in the country. She could develop into a top-class triple jumper with the right training and supplements in the next four years. She's touched 13.5m mark in training. The scholarship has come just at the right time for her,” said Tomy.
Lizbeth would be leaving for the US soon. The athlete, who is a fan of reigning Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor, believes it is the first step towards her ultimate dream of Olympic glory.