Anju hopes to strike gold at Olympics

In exactly 20 days from now one of India's medal prospects at Athens will be eyeing her chances of making it to the podium.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
  • Total Shares


In exactly 20 days from now one of India's medal prospects at Athens will be eyeing her chances of making it to the podium. Currently tied in fifth place in the world rankings with Eunice Barber, 27-year-old athlete from Kerala, Anju Bobby George has left no stone unturned in her quest for Olympic glory. Anju follows a training schedule that is carefully designed to incorporate the elements of strength, endurance, fitness, speed and technique. The schedule, her coach says, will help her peak at the right times before she delivers that one final burst in Athens. Winning jumps Anju's best jumps have come at Qatar and the US. But both were wind assisted. She has still not touched the all-important seven-metre mark and on the occasion that she did, it was a foul jump. But that is the effort she will have to produce if she is to figure in the medals at Athens. The world record is close to a whole metre more than Anju's national record. And at the last Olympics in Sydney, all three medalists had winning jumps of over 6.90m. But Anju refuses to let that put her off. "We have already proved from world championships. So we have to move forward, not back. We are expecting a gold. We will deliver our best at the Olympics," said Anju. Never say die It is this never say die attitude, that last year helped Anju become the first Indian athlete ever to win a world championship medal. But it nearly did not happen. The 27-year-old almost gave up jumping because of a recurring injury. She had to skip the Sydney Olympics and the 2001 World Championships. But it was the support of her family and husband Bobby George's constant prodding that took her back to the pit. She has not looked back since, winning the Commonwealth bronze medal and the Asiad gold, both in 2002. Strong support Now, the long jumper and her coach and husband form a formidable team. In fact, such was Bobby George's belief in his wife's talent that he gave up his own career as a triple jumper to help Anju to the pinnacle of her sport. It was Bobby who took the initiative to organise a training stint with long jump world record holder Mike Powell in USA last year. The training schedule was the same as designed by Bobby, but Powell helped fine-tune Anju's jumping, and helped her gain the mental strength necessary at the highest levels of international competition. Anju badly wants to be on that podium in Athens. And on August 27, she will finally have her chance to vindicate the sacrifices she and her family have been making since she was five. But then that is a price she is willing to pay for the sake of Olympic glory.