Ansi Sojan defied pre-tournament expectations to win silver at the Hangzhou Asian Games, becoming the ninth Indian woman to win a medal at the event. And he did it with a display of verve and confidence that belied his relative inexperience on the big stage.
Ansi was #4 in the field when the event started and her younger compatriot, Shaili Singh, ranked #2, was more favored to finish on the podium.
Wearing a blue headband, braided hair with multicolored beads and an orange coat around her left knee, she managed a big jump of 6.63 meters to climb the podium. This was seven centimeters more than his previous personal best of 6.56m.
Ansi started the evening with a modest jump of 6.13, while China’s Shiqi Xiong set the tone for the competition with a massive jump of 6.62m. Not only to catch Jeong from Annecy, but also to take away Japan’s Sumire Hata, who won the Asian Championships and 6.97m PB.
Ancy didn’t look faded though. Each of her jumps was a spectacle: she started with a series of claps to the crowd behind her, followed by a forward bend, a powerful back arch, a deep air intake before descending to the runway. Then a loud scream and a jump into the hole.
His second jump was 6.49m. A big improvement. He went further in his third place: 6.56m. It equaled his personal and season best. More importantly, it also took her past Hong Kong’s Nga Yan Yu [6.50m] in second place.
Halfway through the event, Annecy had cemented her place in the top-3. And he will not be displaced. His fourth jump was 6.30m, but that set him up for the big jump – a 6.63m on his fifth attempt. Waiting by the sandpit to see how far his jump measured, he let out a roar and pushed the bib over his jersey in celebration. He knew he would convince himself of silver. Amidst all this, though, she took time out to give Styles a few pats on the back.
He went for a break on his final attempt and that resulted in a foul, but it didn’t matter. Annecy has already started celebrating and smiling as wide as she can. It was his first major medal on foreign soil, his first chance to celebrate by shouldering the Indian flag. And he did, posing for every camera pointed at him. He even slipped away from the other medalists for a quick solo photo.
Another Indian in the fray, Shaili, upset his prospects as he sank on the track after his final attempt. He missed the medal by a tilt: 2cm. His best jump was 6.48m, the bronze went to Hong Kong’s Yu at 6.50m.
Ansi enjoyed 2023 well: He won the Indian Grand Prix at Trivandrum, the Federation Cup and the inter-state competition. His only non-podium finish was at the Asian Athletics Championships, where he finished fourth. And that got him pumped up for the Asian Games.
Training with former Russian triple jumper Denis Kapustin, a bronze medalist at the 2000 Olympics, Annecy has turned herself into a polished jumper. As of 2021, he ran the 100m, 200m and long jump at the junior level.
It was in 2022 when he switched full-time to long jump and the results started to show. His best in the long jump went from 6.28 m in February 2021 to 6.55 m in March 2022. He finished on the podium at every domestic event at the Games except for the National Games held a few months later when he finished seventh at the Commonwealth Games.