- Anju Bobby George needs no introduction. She is one of those sports stars who shone so brightly even before the wave of social media hit us. For years at a stretch, Anju consistently grabbed headlines by winning medals at one tournament after another.
- She ventured into athletics as a kid. Her father was particularly supportive and pushed her to perform better. She proved her mettle at school-level competitions itself.
- Then, she added Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medals to her closet. The most special one was the World Championship bronze. She won the silver at the Asian Athletics Championships. With her consistent performances, Anju thus reached her career-high ranking of four.
- Unfortunately, Anju couldn’t fulfill her Olympic gold medal dream. Still, she is trying to claim a medal for her Athens Olympics event as many Russian medalists tested positive. Let us hope that she finally gets her well-deserved medal.
- Meanwhile, she is trying to help upcoming athletes through various roles.
Athletics has always made India proud at various events. Whether at Asian Games or Commonwealth Games, more often than not, athletics has brought home the most medals. Now we talk about champions like Dipa Karmakar and Swapna Barman, but one champion consistently made headlines before anyone else even came into the picture. She has surely inspired generations of upcoming athletes and numerous women all over the world. She is none other than our very own long jump champion – Anju Bobby George.
Anju Bobby George – Biography
- Date of Birth: 19 April 1977
- Height: 183 cm
- Weight: 66 kg
- Place of Birth: Kottayam, Kerala
- School: CKM Koruthode School
- College: Vimala College
- Parents: T. Markos and Gracy
- Spouse: Robert Bobby George
- Children: Aaron and Andrea
- Coach: K.P. Thomas
- Event: Long Jump, Triple Jump
Anju was born in a Syrian Orthodox family from Kerala, India. Her father, K.T. Markose introduced her to athletics when she was just a kid. As she explored the sport, she developed an interest in it. Right from the beginning, during her school days, her talent was visible to everyone.
“She had this fascination for sports and we always supported her to pursue the career she wanted,” says Anju’s mother Gracy, told rediff.com.
Her husband, Bobby George, is Anju’s biggest support and strength. He was her coach, nutritionist, manager, psychologist, and of course friend. In fact, they met for the first time at a training camp held in 1996 under coach P T Joseph. They both connected immediately and became good friends. Moreover, Bobby was a model, triple jump national champion, and star volleyball player then. He met with an accident in the year 1998. After recovering from it, he decided to become Anju’s coach.
“She was winning golds here and there but was not consistent. I felt she had truly great potential. If she had had better financing, more systematic coaching and direction, she would have done far better at an earlier age,” Bobby told rediff.com in an interview.
A mechanical engineer by profession, he took care of everything related to Anju’s training since then. The couple got married on April 24, 2000. The next few years were the best years of Anju’s career.
The couple is now blessed with two children, Aaron and Andrea. Their journey since then has been beautiful and is a true example of how couples can support and uplift each other.
After she was introduced to athletics, Anju first took up heptathlon. Afterward, she focused on jumps and made her mark at the Delhi junior Asian Championships held in 1996. In 1999, she set a national record in triple jump. Anju achieved this feat at the Federation Cup in Bangalore. She also won a silver at the South Asian Federation Games.
Anju’s first Commonwealth medal came in 2002. At the Manchester Games, she cleared a distance of 6.49m and came home with the bronze. In the same year, she won the gold medal at the Asian Games. Anju instantly gained fame and recognition after this feat.
In 2003, Anju won the bronze medal.at the World Championships. She made a 6.70m long jump to achieve this stellar feat. Anju Bobby George is India’s only medal winner in the IAAF World Championship. After Russian silver medalist Tatyana Kotova failed a dope reanalysis test, her medal eventually was upgraded to silver.
“We are thrilled and overjoyed. Anju’s bronze medal is the beginning of a great time for Indian athletes,” Anju’s father-in-law Joseph, an advocate, told rediff.com
Asian Athletics Championships
Her gold medal-winning streak continued at the Asian Athletics Championship of 2005 and at the IAAF World Athletics. She won top honors in both the tournaments. She cleared an impressive distance of 6.75m at the IAAF World Athletics. The performance is Anju’s most special one.
In the next edition of the Asian Games, Anju came home with the silver. Another silver came the very next year at the Asian Athletics Championships.
Anju George has had the distinction of being world number 4. In 2001, she was ranked 61, but her impressive performance in the next two years took her to rank 6 by 2003. Her husband, Bobby had started coaching her in this period. The results are for all to see!
Anju at Olympics
Anju’s main dream was to bring home an Olympic gold medal. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get a podium finish at the 2004 Athen Olympics. However, She tried to fulfill her long cherished dream in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well. However, her performance then was not very satisfactory. Anju soon decided to retire and concentrate on other aspects of her life.
With many Russian athletes being suspended due to doping charges, Anju believes she was the more deserving candidate.
In an interview with Sportskeeda, she said, “During my time, there were three Russians ahead of me and they were winnings almost everything. But they have been suspended now and we have a better picture of how they achieved it. I still feel I was more talented than those Russians who won three medals at the Olympics. We are still awaiting one in Athletics, hopefully, that day will come soon.”
- Until the year 2016, Anju worked as the President of the Kerala State Sports Council. Currently, she is working as the Chairperson of TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme). She is also the Executive member of Khelo India project.
- Her own foundation, Anju Bobby Sports Foundation works to provide financial and infrastructural opportunities to children from underprivileged sections.
- “When we were in school, there was hardly any support to pursue a career in sports. We used to do everything on our own. It was only after we started competing and winning at the international level, people took note of us and only then, the government stepped in with support. The kind of a support system that the Khelo India initiative intends to put in place for young athletes will go a long way in bringing an incremental change in India’s sporting landscape,” she said in a statement.
- Anju Bobby George’s favorite hobby is traveling. It always relaxes her.
- She is a big fan of American athlete Marion Jones.
- If a biopic is made on her life, Anju wants Anushka Sharma too play her character on the big screen.
- Currently, she is working in the customs department in Chennai.
Anju has consistently worked hard to reach the pinnacle of success. Though she missed out on her Olympic dream, she has made her mark in all other tournaments. If we analyze her performances, it is clear that she was spectacular at all events. There are many athletes who consider a certain tournament to be their forte and focus more on that. But, Anju has won medals versatile tournaments.
She has given hope and motivation to all little girls who dream of making it big in not only sports but also other fields. After her own successful journey, Anju is now frequently working for the betterment of sport in India. She has handled many leadership positions in sports bodies since then. Let us hope that very soon we cheer for another Anju Bobby George. Till then, cheers!
Awards and Recognition
- Arjuna Award, 2003
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, 2004
- Padma Shri, 2004
|2003||Paris, France||Long Jump||Bronze|
|2005||Monte Carlo, Monaco||Long Jump||Gold|
|2002||Manchester, United Kingdom||Long Jump||Bronze|
|2005||Incheon, South Korea||Long Jump||Gold|
|2007||Amman, Jordan||Long Jump||Silver|
|2002||Busan, South Korea||Long Jump||Gold|
|2006||Doha, Qatar||Long Jump||Silver|
South Asian Games
|2006||Colombo, Sri Lanka||Long Jump||Gold|
|1999||Bhopal, India||Long Jump||Gold|
|2002||New Delhi, India||Long Jump||Gold|
|2005||Bangalore, India||Long Jump||Gold|
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