Image Credits: Daphne Gloria
After a breakthrough year in 2019, the Women’s Christian College (WCC) student is one of the state’s exciting young track and field athletes. Part of a new wave of athletes, Daphne Gloria provided a taste of victories – claiming silver medal in Long Jump and bronze medal in 100 at the Chennai District Junior Athletic Championship and Chief Ministers Trophy respectively.
This is all still quite new for the 17-year-old, one of Chennai’s exciting young track and field athletes. She hasn’t done many interviews, nor has she been exposed to much publicity. But Daphne takes it all in her stride. Much like everything she does.
The obvious target for Daphne is the All India University Games, 2020, but for now, it’s about continuing along the same road of improvement, while enjoying the experience and using every day as a learning opportunity. She talked with us recently to discuss what it’s like to turn pro, how she manages her rigorous schedule and what big goals she’ll tackle next.
To start off, tell us a bit about your early years. How old were you when you first started running?
When I was studying in 6th Standard my Dad introduced me into athletics, specially into Long Jump. I am proud to say my Dad was my first Coach. But at the age of 13 years, I joined an athletic club and started my athletics training.
What was your childhood like growing up in Chennai? Were you into various sports or were you always specifically interested in running?
Chennai is a bustling and noisy city and growing up in is itself a great challenge. I started playing Basket Ball and wanted to become a Basket Ball player. I dreamed of playing in WNBA. I represented Chennai District in the State Championship. But slowly my passion turned to athletics and I decided that I wanted to be a Long Jumper.
What were the challenges or adversities you faced at the opening of your career?
Since I started at a fairly young age, I did not face much difficulty in terms of training, I enjoyed the training schedule. Only challenge was being in the ground by 5.30 AM for training every day. The training lasts till 7.30 Am and then I had to rush back home and get ready to be in school by 8.30Am. That was the greatest challenge.
Is there any specific coach or person who has been always inspiring you to involve in Athletics or who has been a constant guide to your career from a very young age?
My dad has been the greatest inspiration from the time I started my career and indeed my constant guide. He’s been supporting me a lot into track and field. My track and field inspiration is Carl Lewis, because he excelled both in 100 / 200m and Long Jump. I always dream of emulating him one day.
You recently won two medals in 100m and Long Jump at the IIT Madras sports fest. How happy are you about this result and what are the next meet you’re practising for?
I was very happy about my 100m because during my under-14 days I used to run 13.2 sec in 100m and then under the coaches instruction I shifted my event to 100m hurdle. Thou I was partly successful in the hurdle, I did not enjoy the hurdles like I enjoy the Long Jump and 100m. I also developed an injury because of the hurdles and after 2 years, I stopped the hurdles and concentrated only in long jump. My new coach started working on the speed running part of the long jump and I started regaining my speed and at IIT Madras I thought I will check what speed I can run in competitions and I ran 12.6 sec at IIT Madras and that was very encouraging and satisfying.
Long jump, at IIT Madras I was not able to give my best, even though I won Gold. My personal best this season is 5.09m and hopefully want to cross 5.50m and then aim for 6m by next year. I still have to improve in some areas of my long jump, specifically on attaining height and also to perfect the landing technique. I am training hard that hopefully the coming year  I will jump 6m.
What drives you to compete/ going for more – in the upcoming tournaments? Is it a love of running or getting up for the big competitions?
Every athletes dream is one day run for your country in Olympics and that has been my dream from childhood. So, every tournament becomes a learning curve for me to attain perfection and one day God willing my dreams can come true and I could represent India in the Olympics and win a Gold medal for the country.
What does a typical training week look like for you? And where do you train?
I train from Monday to Saturday. I have weight sessions on the Gym for nearly 2 ½ hrs every Monday and Thursday. Other days the training is from 4.30 to 7.30 pm. My training consists of Plyometrics, Strength and Speed sessions. I train at SDAT Grounds in Chetpet and also at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
How do you juggle with sports and studies?
It is really hard to balance both studies and sports but I’ve been doing it since school days so I am used to it. I may not be a school / college topper, but I try and get above 85% is all my subjects.
What have been your major highlights/achievements in athletics?
BASKET BALL 2014 – TN BASKET BALL ASSN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP - WINNER
What’s your favorite hobby away from Athletics? Is there something you do to take your mind off the game?
I do not have any particular hobby, but I play guitar and sing – so I play my guitar and sing songs which takes my mind away from all the tensions and relaxes me. Also reading the Bible gives a great sense of peace and confidence.
Is there any particular memories from your running career so far that stand out as being special to you?
My first Medal at a District Level competition  always stands as a special memory. In the finals till 70 meters I was in the fifth place, but I put all my strength into the final 30 meters and finished the race [it was a photo finish] and I was awarded the Silver medal. During my School Divisional Competition  in Long Jump I had trained hard and wanted to cross the 5 mtr mark. In my third jump I was able to jump 5.09 mtrs and that also stays a special memory
What are some of your medium/short term goals? (within the next year or so)
What are the events you participate in Athletics – and list down your Personal Best in those events and what areas of your race are you focusing to improve upon as you gear up for the rest of the season?
100m – 12.6 sec / Long Jump – 5.09m In Long Jump I am focusing on getting better height and also improve upon my landing technique. In 100m – I am doing extensive weight training and speed drill exercise to improve my speed and run 12 sec.
What’s type of genre music you listen the most: All Genre
Your Favourite Movie: The Karate Kid
What is your favourite event to watch that you don't do yourself? Cricket
If not a sprinter, then what would you have been? Dancer
Who comes to your meets to cheer you on? My DAD
What’s on your playlist? Nothing as of now